Friday, December 14, 2012

Memorial of St John of the Cross: Trusting One’s Inner Experience

I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.– Is 48:17

Every choice we make essentially involves following our true self or our false self. Saying “yes” to our true self involves trust in our inner experience of God. Giving in to our false self involves following an outer authority more than our inner teacher. St John of the Cross followed his inner compass, composing mystical writings which depict one’s journey to God as a stripping away of false self and desolations as much as by experiences of joy. He was imprisoned in a dungeon for nine months, left with only bread and water, by brothers from his own congregation. Following God’s lead, he endured mistreatment until he died. Mary and Joseph took a similar journey, trusting their inner experience of God, risking ridicule and misunderstanding from those closest to them. With little outer assurance from others that they were right, they relied on their inner sense of God.  Their son, Jesus, did likewise.

My young cousin Thy passed away recently, opting for an experimental treatment for her rare blood disease. She knew the serious risks. Yet, she embraced them, because she wanted her young boys to have the best chance of having a healthy mother; she wanted her husband to have the best chance of a healthy wife. She chose life, even as her own life was slipping away. Accompanying her in her last days left me profound gifts and graces. Among them is this deepened sense from God: “I am here, with you, through your inner voice. Trust me.” This sense lead me to be with my cousin and our family in the past two weeks; this sense teaches me to grieve; this sense opens me up to an Advent like no other, trusting in today’s psalm responsorial: “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.”

“Today, let us take some time to let our inner voice speak, even through our inner noise and chaos. Let’s follow its lead to God.”

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