Today I must speak of wounds and the blindness of many years, and of hardness of heart. Recent years, especially the last few weeks and days, have brought home the realization that I am a deeply wounded mother, [like so many others], wounded by my broken expectations and by the ingratitude of my children.
After years of struggling to understand and help them to get on their own feet after years of drug addiction, misuse of alcohol and general irresponsibility—you get the picture—I finally accepted this week my complete loss. Shock and hurt that so much that was valuable to me has so casually been discarded by them.
This has been a cherished, if difficult revelation today. This wound I have known before as I struggled decades ago with a young son with whom I could do nothing. But surely, I reasoned with myself, here I was dealing with an adult; here I could make a difference at last. Yet the wound remains, as it was, yet dredged deeper.
The image is sharp in my mind: that of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, “How often have I longed to gather you as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but you would not!” And neither would my children.
This week I had to eject my grown children from my home and take a hard tack against them. I have entered again that same old wound, but at a deeper lever. Why? Why? What was God trying to teach me?
During Adoration, as I pondered this revelation with a pierced heart, I began to read in THE SIMPLE PATH TO UNION WITH GOD, P. 41:
“Hardness of heart is not the exclusive domain of Christ’s enemies; it is also found in those closest to Jesus, the disciples, who had left everything to follow Him. The gospel tells us that they did not recognize Him when he walked on water because ‘they had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.’ They must have been amazed at the miracle but failed to grasp its meaning: that Jesus has divine authority over all of creation.
“It is the same with us; our hardness of heart blocks us from understanding fully who Jesus is and what He is doing in our lives. Like the apostles, we all need to live the process of purification and allow God to take us beyond our expectations.
[Our expectations are based on our human understanding and knowledge. Our understanding is always only human–never grasping MYSTERION, forever missing the mark. Abandonment is superior to understanding. We can never plumb the deep things of God–better to cleave naked, to plunge in faith.]
“A hardened heart is set in its ways. It reduces the work of God to make it fit in its natural logic and experience. It is not open to see beyond what it controls. A pure heart, on the other hand, believes that for God nothing is impossible. It is docile and malleable, willing to be pierced, pruned and made new by God.
“The soul which receives the gift of self-knowledge and sees the hardness of its heart, arrives at a moment of decision: accept the gift or remain in darkness.”
I did not want to own hardness of heart. I’ve always seen this as the sin of the Pharisees, an obstinacy, a culpable unwillingness to see. I saw myself as longing for God’s will in my life, accepting all from His hands, totally abandoned to Him—so how could I suffer hardness of heart? But I was convicted here, because wasn’t this the problem? “…our hardness of heart blocks us from understanding fully who Jesus is and what He is doing in our lives.”
Lo, these many years, and I mean decades—how is it that I have not understood fully who Jesus is and what He is doing in my life? For I understood now that it is the hardness of my stubborn heart, set in its ways, full of its own expectations, that set me up and sustained in me such a wound.
Expectations, my own expectations, devised of the desires of my mother’s heart, hardened my heart, made it brittle, unable to respond to what Jesus was doing in my life; and I could not see, in my blindness, anything beyond my own expectations and hopes. It is our own expectations that blind us.
I had failed to see that Jesus has divine authority over creation, over me, my children and all that happens in all of our lives. My heart, hardened in its limited expectations (which always seem righteous in themselves), is too small. I have conceived in my own heart a vision of what my children’s salvation would, could, or should be instead of emptying my heart of my own designs, my own petty attempts to control. God’s own recourse is to break open that brittle heart, so small and inadequate to His Uncreated Love and Light, to HIS vision of salvation for my children.
How ironic. All my life I have been praying, “Be it done to me according to Your Will.” But this describes also how we should submit to Plenitude, to the Fullness of His Will as we abandon our limitations and poverty of our own will. Over the many years the prayer had reached my mind, but evaded my heart.
You see how I describe this reflection as touching on wounds, blindness, and hardness of heart?
All of this reading comes from the section of The Path on KNOWLEDGE OF SELF AND KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. Finally, I read: “The soul which receives the gift of self-knowledge and sees the hardness of its heart, arrives at a moment of decision: accept the gift or remain in darkness.”
Our Love Crucified community teaches us that it is in our wounds that Satan plants his lies, the roots of our disordered tendencies. Here was mine: to use all my love, compassion, and substance to save my children—but what was hidden under this deception [Satan’s deception and my deception of myself] was the sinful attempt to control what only God may control.
As I continue to reflect on this merciful revelation which God continues to unfold to me, I can finally begin to pray truly, “Be it done to me according to Your Will.” Expectations must be shattered for hope to thrive. Only when we abandon expectations can we be open to what God gives.
Mary’s FIAT was the unqualified, unconditional, open response of a heart utterly divested of design, plan, or expectation–a heart free to receive the completely unexpected Incarnation, Divine birth in a stable, flight into Egypt, hidden life, Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost, Soledad. Fiat does not preclude sorrow. But Fiat does give peace in sorrow. Wholeness in sorrow. Let us pray for the humility to enter our mother’s Fiat.