Saturday, July 24, 2010

St. Ignatius' prayer, choosing life 07/24/10

St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote a prayer entitled "Suscipe" (receive):

Take, Lord,
receive all my liberty,
my memory,
my understanding,
and my entire will,
all I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours now.
Do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.

This week I am feeling better after two weeks of depression and anxiety.  On some of those days I felt grief.  On others I felt a high level of nervousness, as if I was at the open door of a plane and was about to skydive for the first time, except that instead of lasting for several minutes or hours, I had that feeling constantly for days.  It can make you think you're going insane.  On many days I feel as if I have only one thin layer of skin and everything I encounter stings me as if I had just ripped off a scab too early - I am a "highly sensitive person".  "My" life is transforming as the prayer above describes.  The depression and anxiety, and/or the meds I take for them, or stress, or genetics, or God, or a host of other possibilities, have been taking away my memory and sharper thinking skills for about 11 years.  My understanding, of God, of life, of my condition, began to leave me long ago, although I've thought I had things figured out a few times.  But now I am being called to let my understanding go, along with my assumptions, expectations, and hopes - about anything and everything.  I still have my conviction that God exists, and that he is good, is Truth, and I still love him and long for him, but that too may leave me someday.

I grieve for the loss of some assumptions, some hopes; right now I grieve for the ability and the confidence in my ability to teach kids on a consistent basis, without sudden and sometimes unexpected bouts of depr./anx. causing me to need time off.  I grieve for the loss of knowing I was doing something effective and good with my life, that I was having a positive impact on the world.  But at the same time I don't want to know about that anymore.  This process of loss is not a spiral into death; I've been there before, and this is different.  In fact, as I write this I realize I do have hope, although no assumptions or expectations, for what will become.  This is new life, true life.  Take all of me, Lord, and may I truly live, and love.  And help me to get out of your way and let you work when necessary.

"'...I was lying awake and wondering what on earth would become of me....I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly towards me.  And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was.  So it came nearer and nearer.  I was terribly afraid of it....I wasn't afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it - if you can understand.  Well, it came closer up to me and looked straight into my eyes.  And I shut my eyes tight.  But that wasn't any good because it told me to follow it....there was a well....I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain....But the lion told me I must undress first.

"'...So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place.  And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness....In a minute or two I stepped out of it.  I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty....

"'But just as I was going to put my foot into the water I looked down and saw that it was all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as it had been before....So I scratched and tore again....

"'Well, exactly the same thing happened again.  And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off?...

"'Then the lion said...You will have to let me undress you.  I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now.  So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

"'The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right to my heart.  And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt....

"'Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt....And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been.  Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water....'

"It would be nice, and fairly nearly true, to say that 'from that time forth Eustace was a different boy.'  To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy.  He had relapses.  There were still many days when he could be very tiresome.  But most of those I shall not notice.  The cure had begun."

C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader"

No comments:

Post a Comment