I am in a state of peaceful exhaustion after spending the better part of the afternoon at the Carmelite House of Prayer to witness a friend's temporary promise to the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.
I have written about my attraction to this form of spirituality here. My heart, full of exuberance, longs to grow closer to our Lord, yet my path is often void of sustained direction. Taking deliberate steps to develop a deeper prayer life is something I desperately need. For this reason, I am contemplating joining their aspirant program, which begins in November. The intellect-stretching nature of Carmelite spirituality appeals to me. I will devote a lot of prayer to this; it's not something said lightly.
I feel a bit like the children in the final book of CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle, when Aslan encourages them to go "further up and further in." Throughout my life, Christ has drawn me to Him in deepening stages. I cannot remember a time I did not desire Him, even before I heard His name. He called me to join Him "further up and further in" when my agnostic father read stories from the Old Testament to my brother and me (a reluctant offering to my maternal grandmother, who wanted us to receive religious education); through answers to childish prayers I offered, often in desperation, while growing up; through friends who invited me to the youth group at the local Baptist church, where I first heard His true name; through commitment to Him in baptism at age 17 after being drawn by a song. Five years ago, He drew me again, this time to the Catholic Church, through an unquenchable desire to receive Him in the Eucharist after a journey of reading. And now, as if that were not enough, He draws me to go even "further up and further in" through contemplating the secular Carmelite order. Certainly this pearl of great price I have found has no end.
In unrelated news, God gave me a beautiful gift yesterday, like an unexpected butterfly of hope that landed on my open palm. Its wings open and close as I watch. I dare not breathe lest it fly away. It has lighted gently and the recognition of answered prayer spreads warmly through my chest.
God is good.