The thorn is still there. It remains lodged in my heart. For a few days, weeks, or months, I will not feel it. I’ll even forget about it. For a time, it’s almost nonexistent. And then there is today, yesterday, the weekend, and last week, when the thorn makes its presence felt again. A face, a memory, a word, a song – sometimes that is all it takes to remind me of the past that scarred me. It’s a pain which stings, which throbs, and which at its worst, paralyzes. Every corner of the city becomes a reminder of a sin I had committed in my youth. And living in it, my own soul is tormented with self-pity over how inescapable the darkness is.
But rather than flee from the darkness and pain, I find myself curiously wondering about what it can offer me…again. The lowly soul is so easily ensnared by the attractive disguise of the enemy. He whispers in my ears constantly. He steals my time from God. He plants uncomfortable thoughts even in my prayer. He wants me to fail, and to be miserable at my wretchedness. And I give in to it. I give in to it one morsel of my struggling soul at a time. How happy I was before! And how lonely I am today without any company! Men – still my weakness, but still my flesh’s foolish need. The good kind I had pushed away as my emotions overwhelmed reason; the bad kind lurking behind me, waiting for the opportunity to target my weakness.
But all this, in truth, is a diversion. I have once more become impatient over my own impatience; sad over my own sadness; discouraged over my own discouragement. The enemy wants me to forget whatever progress God has accomplished in me – even the smallest of it. The enemy wants me to obsess about one thing, and forget that there are many things I must care for, fight for, and live for – the more important things: order in life, patience, fortitude, understanding, love!
In all of it, I see I lack love. I cannot love others – or serve others with love – because I still do not love myself. My pride is an obstacle. My pain – well, my pain must not be left unused. I must go out of my way, go beyond myself, and try to love. I must free myself from fear and open myself to Him, trust Him – the thorn will become a precious jewel. The words of Solomon, as shared by St. Boniface, is my consolation, my hope, and my challenge: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own prudence. Think on him in all your ways, and he will guide your steps.
I must become madly in Love with God. I must burn with Love amidst the coldness of the world. If only I would let grace interfere – to cauterize the wounds of my indifference, to stir my heart to the flames of Love’s Spirit. Then, the thorn’s pain would not compare with the Divine Wounds. But first, I must find peace. The surgeon can only work to save the life of a patient that is asleep. The more restless I become, the more difficult it is for the Divine Physician to heal me. I must cooperate. I must trust. I must be bold and daring in “sleep”.
“Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.” ― Teresa of Ávila