From The Spiritual Canticle, St. John of the Cross
Oftentimes a threat to our safety comes from the outside, but what happens when we can’t find a space that feels safe within us? In the past ten years, I struggled to find an interior chamber that felt completely safe, as my wide open receptivity to the Lord and His Will had been the place of attack from the enemy. Words, even specific sacred words and words of prayer became triggers for anxiety and fear. Discernment of any kind brought up shock waves. So how could I spend consoling time with the Lord? If He is to be found in the heart of my heart, a place where so many words and thoughts and feelings and questions and uncertainties tumble about, how could I find an interior peaceful refuge with the Spouse of my soul?
On this past December 12th, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mama Laura held me in her arms as I poured out this inner pain and conundrum to her. With deep motherly compassion, she shared with me: the Lord’s invitation is to listen afresh. Those words fell upon my spirit like fresh snow, hushed and soothing. Listen afresh. Mama Laura encouraged me to prepare a gift basket for Baby Jesus, to lay at His manger. I could fill this gift basket with all my trigger words, all my fears and anxieties, and I could give it to the sweet tiny Savior this Christmas. So I did. I think He liked this gift of my poverty joined to His. It’s all His now.
A few days later, I was speaking with Mother Cecilia at Christ the Bridegroom Monastery. She explained tenderly to me that there are 3 layers of our spirit: the external relating with the world, the interior gateway, and the inner sanctum. The interior gateway is where the devil camps out; but he cannot get into that inner sanctum. She said to me, “You are completely safe there! Completely safe!” Sitting up tall in her chair, with her arms spread out side to side, and her chin lifted, she proclaimed, “You can march in there with your wedding gown on, like a queen!”
Wow. A space inside where I’m completely safe!?!! That was music to my ears! I was excited to discover this chamber, hitherto veiled to me! That night, I sat before the Blessed Sacrament. I marched, or more like tip-toed, into the inner sanctum with Jesus, my Eternal Bridegroom, and for a whole hour, we remained in peaceful, still silence. Untouched, undisturbed. Totally at rest. Jesus and I made an unspoken promise: in this inner sanctuary, there would be no words, no discernment of anything. Just being together in silence. Just Jesus holding me. Mmmmmm, exhale of delicious relief. Rest.
I can enter this chamber whenever I want; and truthfully, Jesus and I dwell in this inner sanctum always. Sometimes throughout the day, I quietly touch my heart center as a reminder. We are together. I am held, safe and sound.
I told Jesus that sometimes I’d need to talk with Him, but that we could do that in a side room. The enclosed garden is for hushed embrace only in the gentle snowfall. Listening afresh to the sweet, silent stillness of Love born as an infant in the manger of my heart. A safe and simple home. Completely safe.
Excerpts from a poem Mother Cecilia sent to me:
For a Child of God
The saints and mystics
had a name
for that deep
inwardness of flame,
the height or depth
or ground or goal
Which is God’s dwelling in the soul.
because God is there.
All day and when
you wake at night
think of that place
of living light,
yours and within you
where only God
and you can go.
None can assail you
in that place
Not even angels
see or hear,
nor the dark spirits
But there are days
when watching eyes
could guess that you hold Paradise.
Sometimes the shining
around you knows.
~ Jessica Powers, 1953 (Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD)
Copyright 2021, Marian West Veilleux