I have been reading a wonderful little book by Michael Di Gregorio, OSA, called The Precious Pearl: The Story of Saint Rita of Cascia.
I came across one part in particular that deeply touched me… I thought, Yes, this is the secret of the universe.
After St. Rita entered the convent of St. Mary Magdalene,
The community’s superior, wishing to assess the new candidate’s aptitude for obedience, directed her to water the dead trunk of a barren vine. Rita complied faithfully day after day until finally, to everyone’s amazement -especially the superior’s- the vine began to flower and then to bear fruit. It continues to do so even today, a living witness to what is possible to those who trust.
Yesterday, I was telling Father John that I had been angered by words I heard on the news, hateful words. But then, I told him, I felt sad. “I don’t want to be angry,” I said. “I want to be like Dostoevsky’s character Alyosha Karamazov, who didn’t become offended, but instead was saddened by terrible things.”
It is not a despairing sadness; it is a bright sadness. It is a mixture of compassion, heartbreak and hope, a hope that nothing can extinguish.
I believe that everyone can bear fruit. Once upon a time, I grew bitter and disillusioned, and my heart became hard. By God’s grace, this did not last long, and I was restored; I am dead wood that has a few leaves growing from it. To borrow Ebenezer Scrooge’s words, I am not the woman I was.
One must never give up hope, and always tenderly water what only seems dried up and lifeless. Beauty is there, sleeping… It is only sleeping.
As I spoke to Father John, I could not repress my tears. They flowed of their own accord. I thought of the one who had been told hurtful words, and wept; I thought of the one who had said them, and wept.
Alyosha “would walk away in silence when things became too revolting, but he never showed the slightest sign of scorn or condemnation.”
That is how I wish to be. To trust in all wisdom, that is what it means to have hope.
Father John told me, “Blessed are those who mourn. That’s a vocation. Some have the vocation to correct, others weep for the world. Your reaction is good.”
His words upheld me. I often feel capable of so little; I feel weak, frail, and broken. At least, I can weep with, and for, this suffering world and everything that inhabits it. I can water the world, in my small way, and perhaps give it relief.
Logospilgrim, the quiet professor