Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Abysmal Swamp

By Melanie Rigney

(Pharaoh’s daughter) was moved with pity for (the infant Moses) and said, “It is one of the Hebrews’ children.” Then his sister as Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” “Yes, do so,” she answered. So the maiden went and called the child’s own mother. (Exodus 2:5-8)

I am sunk in the abysmal swamp where there is no foothold; I have reached the watery depths; the flood overwhelms me.  (Psalm 69:3)

Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. (Matthew 11:20)

Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ, inebriate me; Water from the side of Christ, wash me; Passion of Christ, strengthen me; O good Jesus, hear me; within your wounds, hide me; let me never be separated from you; from the evil one, protect me; at the hour of my death, call me; and bid me to come to you; that with your saints, I am praise you forever and ever. (Anima Christi)

I had lunch recently with a spiritual mentor, a Catholic whose writing greatly inspires me. I shared with her my concern that my writing and speaking about the women saints sometimes becomes too dark, too much about their struggles: Murder. Rape. A lack of acceptance in their homes, their convents, or their communities.

Her counsel was that there’s always someone in the audience who’s going through something similar, whether the person realizes or acknowledges it or not. Then she went on to say, “Talk about the transformation. Talk about how God guided them through the struggle and beyond.”

It was good advice, advice that applies to us all, writer, painter, mother, father, sister, brother, friend. We all have dark places, as do those we love… and those who find it difficult to love. Call them abysmal swamps if you will, as the psalmist wrote.

Those swamps may seem impossible from which to extricate themselves. We feel so stuck, so persecuted, so put upon, that it seems there is no way out. But if we keep our souls, hearts, and eyes open, we may find freedom in the most unexpected of places and people. Surely, Moses’ mother when she put him in that basket among the reeds was beyond desperate. Her hope was that somehow, some way, someone would be able to help. She likely was shocked to find the benefactress would be the daughter of the very man who had condemned her son and all the other male Hebrew infants to death, a woman who realized the child was an Israelite… and rescued him anyway.

As with Moses, God sometimes provides us with transformation opportunities in the most unexpected of ways. He also will let us remain in the swamp if we prefer. The choice is ours.

Identify your swamp. Pray for the faith to embrace the means by which you will be delivered.

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