Daybreak in the desert with stained glass windows
By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published March 3, 2023
This morning, I woke up at 5 a.m. and had a quick breakfast, while my cat watched me in stunned silence. I could imagine his feline brain turning over the information: “Why is she up so early? Does this have anything to do with my food dish?”
It was still dark, when I drove the short distance to the little adoration chapel. I hurried inside, eager to sample silence in the midst of a chaotic world. As I knelt down before the Blessed Sacrament, my breathing came more easily.
My problems started to recede. The piles of papers on my desk waiting for my attention; the printer that takes pleasure in failing me when I most need it; the creaks and groans of the refrigerator, which may be planning a mutiny.
The silence in the chapel is heavy and thick. No sounds at all, except the occasional rush of a car on the wet road outside. At precisely 7:10, a single bird announces its first glimpse of the sun, and then grows silent. Slowly, the brightness awakens the colors in the stained glass windows.
And here I am, basking in the light that comes from Christ. Here I am, sitting totally still and silent like a passenger on a train moving into eternity.
Jesus went into the desert for 40 days to fast and pray. He chose a place where there were no distractions. No people, no confusion, no noise. As we know, Satan showed up in the desert with a variety of temptations.
As we sit in the chapel, we will also be tempted. There will be anxiety about all the other things awaiting us. “My in-box is overflowing. I’m supposed to make brownies for the school sale. I’ve got to get Junior to the dentist.”
There may also be a rush of painful memories that threaten to pull us away from the present moment. Suddenly we’re reliving the agony of someone we love dying. We’re regretting something we did decades ago. Maybe we worry about future health problems and financial concerns.
It helps to remind ourselves we’re in the chapel to love God. We can say in our hearts: “I worship you, adore you, and love you, Jesus!” And when worries sneak in: “I know you love me and will take care of me.”
Loving God also means accepting that he loves us. Many of us feel inadequate, downtrodden, beset by temptations, unworthy. However, St. John reminds us, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us first.” We are God’s precious children, brought into the world and sustained by his love.
In silence, we find peace, and in peace we find healing. Although it may seem we are sitting in the chapel, doing nothing, we are in fact doing the most important thing in the world.
The word courage comes from the Latin “cor,” which means heart. Courage gives us the strength to face difficulties, dangers and pain. There’s a saying that “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
The world outside the chapel can be chaotic and confusing, but here, in the heart of silence, we can hear Christ’s words, urging us to have courage: “Fear not, for I am with you until the end of the world.”
When I leave the chapel, I feel ready to tackle the tasks awaiting me. Tame the unruly piles of papers, pray over the printer and sweet talk the refrigerator.
I’m also looking forward to the next time I’ll meet Christ in this desert with stained glass windows.
The world’s chaos may be constant and the noise overwhelming, but when we pray before the Blessed Sacrament, time stops and our heart’s secrets are revealed. We can hear Jesus say: “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.”
“Reciting the Signs” is an oil painting by Lorraine’s late husband, Jef (www.jefmurray.com). Lorraine is the author of eight books, and also writes for The National Catholic Register. Her email address is email@example.com.