With No Other Light to Guide Me
Seeking my Love, I will head for the mountains.
St. John of the Cross – Spiritual Canticle
Although we do not think about this often, most of us do have a place, or a spot, where we are able to pray best. The hermit pilgrims of Mt. Carmel, about the years 1206-1214, felt they could pray best on top of a mountain, close to God. We are told that the setting near the Spring of Elijah, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea , was quite beautiful.
The mountain laurel in bloom was awesome.
I recall a member of my own family, who used to live in a farm house situated on a small elevation. Every morning, with a missalette from church, he used to sit in a rocking chair in front of a big sliding window, overlooking the expansive fields of Iowa . There, he would pray.
Carl Jung was fond of saying that the castle without should match castle within. It would seem that all of us have a little hermitage inside of us wherein a candle burns, a hermitage near the sea, a field of grain, a garden of flowers or a group of trees waiting to give us shelter in the shade. We could go on and on in citing examples. It is in these special settings that we sense the nearness of God and gain strength for the day. Interestingly enough, in this day and age, for some people, their time of quiet is in a car, going to and from work.
All that matters is that we have a place and a time to call our own, a place where we meet God, Who is waiting to give us shade and shelter. For myself, it is the kitchen table in early morning. In late afternoon, it is the monastery’s long corridor with windows on both sides. Walking back and forth, I meditate on the events of the day and the world situation. I lay all of this before God.
Some years ago, I came across the expression “circadian rhythm”. I learned that we all have a unique and natural rhythm to our day. What is interesting is that the root word of “circadian” has to do with “God in the sky”. In The Tree Full of Angels , Macrina Wiederkehr talks about the fact that God clamors for our heart’s attention. It is God who puts an ache there. Everyone has it, and it is an ache that is immensely deep.
The Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel invites us to name our chapel, and our time, and to embrace this ache with tenderness. Little by little this ache will be taken away.
Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.