For four years I’ve been an amputee. I lost over half of my left foot in February 2015. The story of why I needed that amputation was told early in my social media ministry (here is the story). In March of 2019, I lost more of my flesh. I am a person that is now known as a below the knee amputee. Over these past four years things have tried to use darkness to consume my heart. Why? Those within the darkness desire to spread their vines of despair.
Remember, darkness can rise up from the enemies that Christians have been facing for generations. Who are those enemies? Those enemies are the Devil, the World and the Flesh. These enemies were defeated by Christ, yet they still whisper to us. These foolish enemies attempt to gain any prize won by the Lord in order to spite Him. However, to say whispers within the darkness has remained passive during my current time of recovery would be a lie. That whispering in the darkness still tries to sow its seeds of despair within my heart.
How do I respond to those whispers in the darkness? I laugh. The laughter I laugh arises from the hope that our Lord’s victory upon the Cross won for us. Remember, St. Paul teaches us “… we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). Thus, our enemies think they can hide the glory of God from us through their use of darkness. How? Our enemies think this darkness belongs to them merely because they speak and sow through it. Yet, the virtue of hope which flowed out into the world from our Lord’s empty tomb has now permeated darkness itself. Thus, we can say, Christ has even reclaimed the darkness within His victory. As the Psalms tell us “… even the darkness is not dark to you, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with you” (Psalms 139:12).
Even as I lay in my bed engaged in this dance between my enemies subtle whispers and my hope filled laughter my Carmelite roots sustain me. Never forget, the garden of Carmel is a garden that our Mother Mary tends to herself. She is the penultimate witness to the hope that her Son won for us and now offers to us. Within that garden of Carmel, a Carmelite learns that their vocation has many facets. One of those facets is witnessing to the reclaiming of darkness achieved by our Lord on Good Friday.
As a Carmelite the formation I went through prepared me for these moments of being on a hospital bed. For moments when the whispers in the darkness appear to have overtaken a soul. For moments when Christ is not clearly seen, yet the heart senses Him, via the gift of hope that is within the darkness.
Guided by Hope
The hidden hope that lays within the darkness causes a transformation within the heart allowing the heart to realize its life is now different within the darkness. There are moments within the darkness our enemies try to cause despair but hope makes those moments into a time of preparation. A preparation for what? For the coming of the Son. Hence, Christ’s gift of hope prepares the heart to face Him and rejoice in His second coming.
The permeation of hope into darkness has changed the nature of what that darkness is. What has the darkness become? It has become like the darkness of the night at the point immediately before the coming of the sun. The fullest reality of hope is realized during that moment of night when the darkness in the world is at its densest. However, in that dense darkness, the human heart learns to rest in that sense of hope. Hope that tells the soul that the dawn is fast approaching. It is in that sense of anticipation that the fruit of joy, founded in hope, is ripened. Remember, the harvest of joy begins at the glimmer of the dawning hour.
Now, as I lay in my hospital bed pondering over the new realities that are waiting for me in the months to come; my heart rejoices in the hope given to me by the Lord. My heart is part of that garden of Carmel. A garden that Christ seeded with hope, along with many other virtues and gifts. It is only now that those mysterious seeds are sprouting. They are sprouting because those seeds sense the beauty of the dawn that awaits all of us in Christ. This sense comes via the gift of ever tomorrow Jesus permits us to receive through His grace. I pray that each of our hope filled hearts may see the beauty of His dawning hour.
Your hope will never depart from the hearts of men, as they remember the power of God. ~ Judith 13:19