“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”
– St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata –
Life in India has changed me. Definitely in ways that are evident, physically, but also ways that are so deep within I can only catch glimpses of it. Regardless, I am grateful. Has it been easy? Not all days, or even most. Is it all “worth it?” someone asked me, Yes! The sorrow, the sickness, the moving across the world to a third world country…each of these are beyond worth it. I only wish I could capture better, in words, what I feel in my heart.
These past couple of weeks, I have struggled. I miss my family and friends. I miss the ability to drive places and not deal with traffic in India. I miss being able to take a warm bath, while reading a book or listening to calming music. I miss my air conditioned bedroom! You name it, I miss it! But those things, the longer I am here, seem and feel so inconsequential. So unnecessary for obtaining happiness. They are things of the world…material things that in all honesty will never bring TRUE happiness.
In my lifetime, poverty has come in many forms. From losing my mother, taking out college loans, to living as a nun and trusting in Divine Providence (which we should always do) and living here, in India, where poverty is so visibly present. We are all called, be it one way or another, to live in poverty. Being in the world, not of the world, is so hard to accomplish. It is especially difficult because everything in society points to “material” and “monetary” wealth, as happiness. My friends, it is so much more than that! That is trickery. That is a lie to distract you from happiness.
“Love alone leads to perfection, but the three chief means for acquiring it are obedience, chastity, and poverty. Obedience is a consecration of the heart, chastity of the body, and poverty of all worldly goods to the Love and Service of God. These are the three members of the Spiritual Cross, and all three must be raised upon the fourth, which is humility.”
– St. Francis de Sales –
While being here in India, my biggest sense of poverty is that of not having a Byzantine parish to attend. A place of worship that feels like home. How I ache for Divine Liturgy, “like I am used to!” The more I pray into that ache, I realize that while it is somewhere I feel heaven meets earth, the one thing that matters in the Liturgy is found here too…if I look for it. That is, the Bridegroom! The physical body of Christ, that I may receive Him physically, to be held deeply within. Maybe the physical body of the church building lacks in “American beauty,” or the music is not the same; but the Lord is present, the Sacraments are offered, the Communion of Saints is at each Mass. I have “home” here.
A priest, in response to my sharing this struggle, said to me, “…this time away is your Lenten journey in the desert. Your Pascha is not going to be in April, it will be in May. Your Paschal season will be when you return to Divine Liturgy.” How beautiful, and very helpful, I found his words. He knew my ache, but also knew my love of connecting my experiences to the Cross. He helped me to center myself again…to focus on the face of Christ and not just the feelings obtained while at Liturgy.
So my friends, I ask you, how are you living out your poverty? Do you live it with gratitude, or do you only see the burden? I challenge you, in this time of the Fast, to look at your life. Are you living poverty, chastity and obedience; and therefore, living humility? Take this time, set aside by the Church, to enter into the desert. Ask the Lord to reveal the baggage you have within. Then, come Pascha morning, we will have left our baggage at the tomb and risen to new life, with Him.
Please pray for me as my time here is rapidly coming to a close. Please ask the Lord to continue His work in my heart, and that I may remain vulnerable with Him. Thank you! Know of my prayers. Peace +