Another amazing passage from Fr. Philippe's book Interior Freedom. (Catholic Mutt, did you get to this part yet? =))
It's in the section called "The Present Moment." Here he discusses how living in the present moment is key to a life of interior freedom because, for one thing, we can only exercise freedom now, in this moment. (One of those "duh" principles that I forget so often - I find myself obsessing over past choices, as if I could change them, or projecting into the future what I "would" do in such and such a situation. Impossible.)
Some of my favorite lines from this section, and why I love them:
"We have very little hold on the future either. Despite all our foresight, plans, and promises, it takes very little to change everything completely. We can't program life in advance, but can only receive it moment by moment."
Amen. This strikes a chord because I want to program life in advance! I want the guarantee that the future will pan out the way I envision it, at least eventually *cough* baby *cough*...receiving each moment as it comes is a challenge. But when I really do it, it's so life-giving. I can take a deep breath, relax, and concentrate on this moment: right now I will love, right now I will accept, right now I will be with God.
"The ladder of perfection has only one step: the step we take today."
I just love how he says that. Of course I hope for growth in my spiritual life, but regardless of where I've been or where I'm going, the only forward-motion I can make is today.
A quote from St. Therese of Lisieux: "I only suffer for one moment. It is because people think about the past and the future that they become discouraged and despair." Fr. Philippe's commentary: "Nobody has the capacity to suffer for ten or twenty years; but we have the grace to bear today the suffering that is ours now. Projecting things into the future crushes us - not experiencing suffering but anticipating it."
This is the home-run passage for me. The first time I read this (over a year ago) my eyes immediately filled with tears and I had to put the book down and just let these words enter my heart. Not experiencing suffering but anticipating it...yes, I had been doing just that! I've grieved not only the present lack of a child now, but also into the future (IF does that to you!). In my saddest moments, I'm sad not just because of everything I don't have now in terms of motherhood, but everything (so I tell myself) that I will never have - no first steps, no first birthday, no hearing "mama", no little hand in my hand, and on and on until I think I've suffered through the lack of every possible moment from the child's birth until their high school graduation!
Projecting things into the future crushes us...I think that is so true. I just don't know what the future holds for me. I just don't. Yes, I could be childless forever - but won't God give me the grace to bear that, day by day? It's exactly as Fr. Philippe says - no one can bear a 10 or 20 year dose of suffering all at once. And thank God, it doesn't come that way! I only suffer for one moment said St. Therese (during her final illness, by the way). Just in this moment I can bear the suffering of IF. I long for a child now and it hurts now and my heart aches now - but I don't need to anticipate all the other suffering that I'm sure is in my future. This passage had a huge impact on shifting my thinking in that regard.
"The best way to prepare for the future is to put our hearts into the present."
Short and sweet. I want to paint this on my walls, tattoo it on my arm, write it everywhere. When I feel like my life is going nowhere, or like I'm stalled in my tracks, I want to remember this. If I put my heart into the present moment, and really work to cultivate virtue and holiness now - to become more loving, more patient, more like Jesus, then if I become a mother someday, I'll be that much more prepared! And if I don't, well, is it really a loss to be more loving and patient? =)
The bottom line is, I only have today. I only have this moment. Jesus, free me from worrying about the future, and especially from suffering from things that haven't even happened yet. Help me to see You right here, right now. You catch all my tears, and you hold me when I cry. Help me to open my heart to what you are teaching me right now, even in this valley of tears.