Apparently, I’ve got something in common with the prophet Habakkuk.
You see, I’ve been shaking my fist at the Lord quite a bit over the past seven days. So I heard a bit of myself, and my recent attitude toward Divine Providence, when listening to the opening words of today’s first reading at Mass:
‘How long, O Lord? I cry for help, but you do not listen!
I cry out to You…but You do not intervene.
Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?’
Indeed, it’s felt a LOT like my personal ship has been taking on water of late. It started last Sunday, when I received a call informing me that my 55-year-old business manager had died. Not only was her passing quite unexpected, but at the time of her death, she had been in the middle of closing out the books on my firm’s fiscal year. So I had to mourn the passing of a colleague and friend…even as I had to try to pick up the pieces of a ledger system that I only dimly understand.
That harsh reality was still settling into my brain on Monday, when I got a call telling me that my brother was about to be hospitalized for the second time in six months, the dangerous pole of his bi-polar disorder now in ascendancy again.
Frankly, it was all seeming like more than I could handle – more than I ought to be asked to handle. And while I was able to draw, from somewhere deep in my soul, some measure of confidence that things would work out in the end, I was NOT – in that moment – remaining particularly calm about the events that were unfolding in my life.
It had the feel of a perfect storm. Waves were crashing over the bow, and it seemed as though my little firm might indeed be imperiled – even as I was having to direct a significant portion of my energy toward caring for a brother in need.
So by Wednesday last week, I’d have to say that Habakkuk didn’t have a thing on me in the angst department:
C’mon, God: Can’t You see that I NEED You?!?
Then, as if in answer to my somewhat irrational pleadings, I got to Mass on Wednesday morning and realized that God had a special feast prepared for me: The feast of the Guardian Angels.
Yeah, sure: I know that the feast really wasn’t plopped on the liturgical calendar just for my benefit. Still, what a blessing it was to be reminded in that moment that Lord has promised to protect us through the efforts of the heavenly host. I realized, too, how long it had been since I had asked for help from my guardian angel. How easy it had become to fall back into the trap of self-reliance. How easily my faith had been tested by the week’s cascade of troubles.
I read Jessica Powers’ admonition that day: ‘Never go anywhere without the angels / who watch God’s face and listen to be sought.’ And I realized that, in asking for help from various quarters, I was in fact being delivered from some of the disasters that had had been piling up around me. Things were starting to work out, little by little, step by step.
The storm hadn’t stopped, exactly. Indeed, much of it still rages today. But my faith in the Skipper had strengthened enormously, once I was reminded that I do not have to navigate these waters alone.
It’s the best kind of blessing – to hear, along with Habakkuk, how the Lord intends to remain faithful to his promises:
‘Then the Lord answered me and said…
For there is still a vision for the appointed time
It speaks of the end, and does not lie;
If it seems to tarry, wait for it.
It will surely come;
It will not delay.
Look at the proud: Their spirit is not right in them.
But the righteous live by their faith.’