The world calls it “irony”, we call it “God’s timing”. Whatever you call it, it’s not lost on me that God’s timing would have me visiting seminaries and spending time further discerning my call to the priesthood during Lent. Lent, the time of year where we spend time praying and reflecting on the death that brought new life.
Some may look at my travels and think “how exciting” to be visiting such varied places: metropolitan DC, Austin, TX, the mountain ranges of TN, and even in our own backyard filled with history. However, while the traveling has been revelatory, it has also required time to reflect on all that I’ll leave behind when I go…wherever that may be. In discernment, they call it “the little dying”. It requires the discerner to take time to examine the parts of life and relationships that will be impacted and forever changed.
During this Lent, I was blessed to come across a word in the psalms that I didn’t know the meaning of. Actually, I thought I knew the meaning of the word the first time that I came across it in morning prayer. But the second time it showed up, just a few days later, I decided to look it up. The word is “crag”.
The phrase “for you are my crag and my stronghold” showed up in Psalm 31:3 and 71:3 in March. “Crag” is defined as “a steep, rugged rock; rough, broken, projecting part of a rock.” The first time I read it, I assumed (or maybe remembered something from my Sunday School years) that a crag was a shelter within the rock. Kind of like the small cave Tom Hanks’ character, Chuck Noland, finds protection in during the movie “Cast Away”. Then, after looking the word up, I still wasn’t clear of its meaning and needed a visual. So I did what so many of us do these days, I Googled it! To my amazement, I found numerous images that showed me a place quite unlike what I’d envisioned.
A crag is not a cave. It is out in the open! I’ve included one of the images I found. Some may think the psalmist wasn’t thinking clearly to put both crag and stronghold in the same sentence. Imagine yourself standing on one of these overhangs during a climb in a mountainous/hilly area. It may be a little scary. But, it also made me reflect on how God wants each of us out in the open and the importance of reflecting with Him. It made me think of being a climber and getting to that place that is solid and allows us to look out at where we’ve come from and where we may be headed. Not every climber stops at the crag because it may be scary and/or require taking time away from the climb. However, even in fear or determination, it may be awe inspiring while it allows for rest and reflection. Sometimes, being on the crag will require (or provide the opportunity for) the climber to make a decision to either venture onward or return to home. However, in either case, we know, just as the psalmist did, that God is with us and we have been changed by our experience and reflection.
Recently, while chatting with Mary Snyder, I mentioned that I was planning to write this month’s Postulant’s Path column about the “little dying” and about the people, places, and things that I am coming to terms with the reality that I’ll need to leave them behind either for the near future or forever. I loved her response, “That’s too depressing.” She said that she didn’t like to think about it that way. And then she gave me a great quote that I will forever credit her for; “I love to go, but I hate to leave.” Soon I will go, and I will hate to leave.
Today, I know that this Lent has gotten me to this craggy place. I’m out on that ledge, talking to God, trusting in Him, and looking with Him at both where I’ve come from and where I may be headed. Soon it will be time to leave this craggy place and continue “the climb”. Hopefully, there will be other craggy places that will allow for reflection and awe as this journey continues. Soon, there will be a seminary decision. New life. And then, once again, God’s timing will not be lost on me as it will be Eastertide!
Your prayers for me are both felt and coveted. Please continue. Please also remember my family, friends, and employers who face the task of adjusting to life without my presence and assistance. Please also pray for all of the seminaries who work so hard to prepare priests for the Church. Blessings to all of you this Eastertide! You are all in my prayers!
Yours in Him- Bobbi