July 28th, 2020 - JER 14:17-22 & MT 13:36-43
In Jesus’ field of life metaphor, the seeds grow beside the weeds. It takes the eventual harvest to fully sort it all out. Some Good News - here we are in the meantime, abiding in a weedy field that so easily saps out our gratitude and hope, the ingredients for a happy life.
Our bullfrog prophet Jeramiah knew this well. Look at our first reading, written in the midst of a famine that might as well be our present pandemic, and hear a familiar cry of suffering: “Let my eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest, Over the great destruction which overwhelms…” This is a prayer of honest pain, one that grasps both the truth of very real suffering as well as the God who is beside us amidst it.
St. Teresa of Avila, the brilliant Spanish mystic and Carmelite nun, understood that honest prayer is “intimate sharing between friends” and true intimacy is shared in good times and bad – in the seeds and the weeds.
“One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying” she says. “He is offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off.”
Even and especially in this present age heightened by social distancing, visible injustice, and communal isolation, our prayers are not meant to simply erase our cries of pain – like taking an ibuprofen for a headache – but to help us see God already surrounds them. Even if they are tinged with anger, with disappointment, or with confusion, our prayers are still ours. If they are authentic then they are real invitations, they are steps toward being in tune with living love.
Teresa knew how to pray, and to live, amid the planting of seeds and the suffering of weeds. What are the weeds that choke life out of you this week? Invite God into them, be present to God and let God be present to you. Offer up Teresa’ prayer. Sit with the disturbing and the frightening, knowing that God is already sitting beside you in them:
“Let nothing disturb you;
Let nothing frighten you:
All thing pass;
God never changes.
All that it strives for.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.”