A Secret Journey
Part Two of Two
Of course, long ago I also had my dreams and aspirations, as you do. I understand what you are going through, how hard it can be to have all your life before you, with dreams of what might be, what could be, and yet not know. I also wondered, sometimes desperately, "What will be?" In my confusion I struggled to make sense of it all and asked, "Will I ever find my way?" "Will I ever find my place in this world?" "Why is the world the way it is?" "What is the purpose for my life?"
Just like you, I did not know the answers. But He knew! And He knows what your path is meant to be. You will find your way, choosing that which is good or rejecting that which is not, and striving steadily toward your goals. He will help you, if you let Him.
Don't be afraid! You can be what you are called and meant to be, even if it seems like an impossible, unreachable dream.
Some told me I had to do this and had to do that, with all the force they could apply. They imposed their way upon me and sought to make me in their image, but I was meant for something else and disappointed them all. They "wrote me off" and rejected me. "What a "waste!" they thought through the years. But they were wrong. There is more to life than all the wealth in this world (Psalm 37:16-19). There is more to life than all the power, status and recognition one can earn in a lifetime. And there are some things that are worse than death!
Some say that the greatest instinct within man as well as animals is the will to live and survive, and that may be true. But for man, there is something more, something more powerful: the drive to overcome the sense of separation from others that we have, the existential loneliness we experience, the drive to experience love and a meaning for our lives. In love, there is no loneliness, only joy. In love, the meaning of it all reveals itself radiantly before us.
That love can be experienced within relationship to others and to our God. So, for our own sake we are commanded to love Him with all we are and to love all others just the same, even as He loves us. The Law He imparted to us is given out of the tenderest of loves! The Law shows us the way of life, that we are to share His love with all in need in the world.
Aligning and ordering our lives so that we live in harmony with the Law, and especially the greatest commandment within the Law, fulfills the deepest yearning of the human soul.
You may say that the law restricts man's activities, and so it does, but only so that we avoid unnecessary suffering and the evils that harm our relationships with others and the dear Lord. We each have a choice in life, to follow a way that leads to harmony and ever-increasing love, or to follow a way that leads to violence, disease, loneliness and despair, death and estrangement from God and all others.
Some would urge us to follow the way that leads to death. Do we really need to follow their path and "jump" off its "cliff" to see the terrible results in our own lives? Why not follow those who have found the sweet way of life? Live with integrity and honor and you will be blessed. Live according to the natural moral law and you will honor us and God.
Better is the poor man, that walks in his simplicity,
A man can be threatened with violence and even death, but he will remain content if he has found an answer to the riddle that is life. If he follows the Law (Exodus 20) and opens his heart to God's grace, nothing can disturb him. But if someone destroys a man's sense of hope and makes him feel utterly alone, makes him believe that he is utterly unwanted, unloved and forgotten ... makes him think he is completely unvalued and of no worth, then something more than his life is destroyed. His soul has been poisoned and turned toward despair. Something inside dies.
Long ago, like so many others in our materialistic society, I was not taught anything of God's law or His love, but was told that all that existed was this physical universe, that I was unworthy, that nothing I could realistically do would ever be enough. Especially after experiencing abandonment when we were young, and when rejection was given by those who remained, I knew despair. That terrible evil of despair leads a person to give up. He loses all hope.
Invalidating someone else's being, their very existing, treating them brutally, whether physically or psychologically, so that they believe there is absolutely no hope and no love for them, is terribly damaging. Browbeating them so that they feel guilty at all times without cause, or convincing them that they have no worth is devastating.
You can hate someone, but they may not be affected. You can injure their body, and they may still have hope. Yet, if you afflict them, convincing them that they are not worthy of love, and actually bring them to that complete despair, you have destroyed them within. The will to survive and live that is so strong is eventually worn down, which shows that the need to experience love is even more basic to man. When all hope of finding love and being loved is lost, a man gives up and is broken.
This is what occurs in the socialist and totalitarian regimes that seek to suppress and destroy all faith in God. That is what happens in abusive relationships. No matter how lofty the promised goals of the socialists appear, because they are proudly and zealously anti-God, they especially and perversely strive to crush those who believe in God.
In promoting their worldview and twisted way in each and every aspect of society, they eventually end in devaluing every member of society, whether they believe in God or not. For over a hundred years they have used the slogan, "Forward"1 in their rallies, magazines and publications, suggesting they know the way to the perfection of society, and insist that everyone believe it whether they do or not. They do not respect the God-given freedom of thought.
While it is natural for a man to strive to achieve greater perfection of his work, and to take a healthy sense of pride in that work, communist leaders value all work within any type of career equally based upon the number of hours worked, not the quality of work done. They reward one who does poorly in the same way as they reward one who demonstrates excellence. This is what they mean by giving each one "his fair share." In this way, they punish those who perform best and eventually destroy individual spirit and initiative.
Under their tyranny, the individual is forced to ask himself, "Why should I try harder?" Contrary to the natural praise given to work of good quality, in communism, man is treated as a mere part in a callous societal machine. There is little reward for good work, whether in the production of goods or in serving others, and individual independent thinking is suppressed.
Communists fan the flames of intolerance and violence towards those of faith everywhere they have seized power. Why? Because it is a movement based upon hatred for all that is good and for the God who has created that good. Those who have lived under these evil regimes know this to be true.2
Those who would consider supporting this path, with elitist, socialist control over society and the individual members of society, anywhere in the world, should not ignore the dark history of socialism and communism, both past and present.3 Whether we consider the National Socialist Party in Germany (the "Nazis"), the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the "U.S.S.R."), the current communist regimes in China, Cuba and elsewhere, or others, in every place communism has been implemented, elite leaders have proclaimed that they would "do it right," yet they have universally ended up oppressing the masses and killing millions.
There are also other varieties of socialism, even Islamic socialism as has been practiced in Libya and Egypt. Just as there are those of faith who seek social justice through socialism, there are Muslims who also seek social justice through socialism, and then the imposition of Islam. We live in a world where men struggle to seize and retain power, as it has ever been. None of these struggles for power is the way of life, and socialism, though it appears to promote the welfare of the people, never does, because it is contrary to human nature.
Whatever economic or governmental system we experience in our lives, the suffering we individually experience in this world can at times seem overwhelming. Everyone, no matter how rich or poor, however powerful they may be, experiences some form of suffering, whether physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual. Due to man's cruelty, suffering is only made worse. It is universally experienced, so don't think you are alone in this or that others have a "better time of it."
Each of us must confront it and overcome it, not letting it destroy us. Despair is one of the darkest and most dangerous things a man can experience, because it removes our sense of hope. Despair steadily robs us of our strength and our ability to stay the course in life. It closes us off from others and from God, and leads to the destruction of everything in our lives.4
Yet, despair is based upon a self-deception. We think that we are completely alone, bereft of any friends and that even our True Friend has abandoned us, yet you must understand that that is a lie.
Whenever we think this way, we need to remind ourselves that just as our friends once hid behind a tree in play, out of His wisdom, the dear Lord does not always make Himself known to us. There are times when we go through what seems like a dark night, feeling lost and empty,5 but remember, the deepest dark comes before the dawn. This I have learned. No matter how dark it may seem, He is with us!
We, as man, must find a way, and He is helping us, He is helping you, whether we are aware of this or not. We must also encourage others and treat them with kindness and love, renewing their hope. This is our task in life. Whether our work comprises routine tasks on a daily basis, investigating, inventing, creating products for sale or serving in various ways, we must carry on and work hard (Genesis 3:17-19). When problems arise, as they will in everyone's life, we must discover the way forward.
When we have worked with great effort and then find that we have to start all over the next day, we must continue to give our very best. Have you heard the ancient Greek story of Sisyphus who is said to have been punished "by the gods" and forced to push a boulder up a hill ... who hoped to be released from his punishment if he was able to push it over the hilltop? After struggling so hard all day to work his way up the hill, when he almost arrived at the top, the boulder would roll back down the hill, and day after day, year after year, he would have to start over again the next morning. Isn't this like the story of man's endless labor in this world?
Life can seem like that sometimes, but we have hope in One who is greater than all! The dear Lord has promised us that He is with us forever (Matthew 28:20). We can trust and hope in Him, because His word is true! Yes, you will be tested in life as we all are, but you must resist turning towards despair!
With every setback, we must begin again, remembering, looking to, and trusting Him, for if we think as man without honoring Him, we will blindly destroy that which we seek to build.
There will be good times and difficult times in everyone's life. Don't you remember those times when we played games or as you grew older, wrestled to see who was stronger? ... when we raked leaves on a brisk Autumn afternoon or played in the snow that was floating down in huge, sparkling, white flakes that seemed so magically beautiful? These things may seem unimportant, but within it all, there was love and fun, and He was there with us.
As life unfolds before you, you too will have moments of simple joy. The goodness of life is found in all these little things we experience each day, and somehow, if we listen closely and gaze out at this wondrous world, along with these moments, we will also find our God. He didn't create this Earth or man so that we live a dreary life or suffer, rather He wishes to bring us joy!
These simple times are a gift and part of the wonder of life. Work may be hard at times, but when there is love in our hearts, we are content and at peace. When there is love in our hearts, we can accept the work we have, be grateful to have it and understand that in these settings we have an opportunity to share His love with those around us.
Some believe that God cursed Adam and Eve by sending us to live in this world and work hard, but He only did what was necessary for man to find his way back. Man was unworthy to live in the Garden of Eden and needed to learn humility, and God gave us a way through which we could return. Living and working within this world helps us find that humility before God, and finding humility, we can accept and receive His grace! God did not curse man, but out of love, gave us exactly the right experiences in this world that we need to become ready to receive Him.
The difficulties in life are not meant to crush us, though we sometimes feel that way. The difficulties in life are meant to ennoble us and produce within us greater understanding and compassion for others. We are not meant to despair and sorrow without comfort.
But in those early dark days so long ago in my life, I wasn't experiencing joy; I felt alone and lost. Yet, I was fortunate and had some friends who encouraged me, and I had music to bring warmth and help to heal my soul. Eventually, I listened to my heart's deepest yearning and turned away. It grieved those who sought to dissuade me ... as if I had committed the most horrible crime in the world! Believing in God? Following my heart? "What a terrible thing!" they said to each other. They told me, "There's no possibility that God exists." "This is all that is!" "Accept it!" But, I could not do that.
I was called to another path, but even then, not having had the fortune of parents who loved the Lord, nor having even heard of that great virtue, humility, I was arrogant and proud ... and enthusiastic, just like so many young people today, so I plunged ahead. Perhaps like you, though you may not like to admit it, I still had much to learn. I still do.
Sometimes, it was painful, and the lessons life gave me made me feel rejected and bitter, but it wasn't Him rejecting me. I wrongly took it that way, but He was preparing me to be ready and receptive to accept and receive what He had to give. I had to come to accept Solomon's advice to us all:
"... do not despise the Lord's discipline,
... just as we have disciplined you through the years, because we love you! Be grateful for the correction of those who teach you, because it is the way to grow in understanding.
Yes, there were many painful experiences. I felt lost just as you may at times, but it was necessary for me to learn what He wished me to know and see. I had to learn the value of humility before the Lord. And so it will be in your life, teaching you what it is necessary for you to learn, showing you what He wishes you to know and see.
There came a time when it became clear that He had called me to care, to serve, to comfort others ... to bathe and bandage those in need and be with them in their loneliness. I became a nurse, like so many others have been called to do, and He has been with me in this.
Those around me thought it beneath them and me, but in this, I felt fulfilled, serving my Beloved! If I and others can bring relief to those who are suffering and show them His love, what better way could we live? Whatever you do in this world, never feel that anything is beneath you, for even the dear Lord was considered among the lowest of the low and was abandoned by almost all in this world and treated like the worst criminal.
Every person has to face their aloneness in this world some day, as I'm sure you know. Yet being alone need not be the painful experience of loneliness, nor do we have to seek an escape from this reality through drugs, alcohol, entertainments or fleeting pleasures of this world. Confronting our aloneness as an individual need not lead us into despair. Rather than desperately looking to impose change on this world or in our own lives, as the solution, look to Him.
His loving embrace is the fulfillment of our hope! This is a mystery, but it is true. Being alone can be a time of great benefit, a time for exploration, a time to know Him and experience His grace! Because we all have our being in Him (Acts 17:28), we can realize that we are never really alone! "God is faithful" and will be with you (1 Corinthians 1:9)!
With a smile, a touch or a hug, we can bridge the gap between us all and help others as well as ourselves know a sense of belonging, that we are part of something important and that our lives matter. In so doing, we discover the meaning of life and understand why life is to be revered and treasured. We can serve as conduits for His love, bringing His light into this world.
If I seem not to care so much about acquiring the things of this world, it is simply because I am already full! How can I desire more when He has given me all I could ever want? And I am grateful for all He has given me, especially you!
So, follow your heart and treat everyone with respect and kindness. Be honest and straightforward in all your dealings (Leviticus 19:11-12). You are blessed to be a human being, a person with many gifts, with more power to achieve good in this world than you realize. Apply all that you are, your intellect and will and all your strength to follow the highest aspirations within you, and see where it takes you.
You can be sure of this: He had me in His arms all along, even when I forgot and was lost into this world. How ashamed I was after having forgotten Him! When I remembered my Beloved, I thought, "How could I?" You can be sure of this, too: He has you in His arms even now, and He will help you find your way to where you are meant to be.
So my children, I must ask you:
Can you grow and learn and do, in this world, yet not become a shell of the child you once were? Can you avoid becoming hollow inside as the world would make you?
You will want to please them, but remember the still small voice whispering within your heart. Yes, you will lose yourself in this world some times. You will. Everybody loses himself in this world eventually, but one day, remember what we talked about and turn back around. Remember!
When you're lonely and don't know what to do, remember! You can always turn around and face Him. Beyond the clouds of our confusion, the Sun is always shining! Reach out to the dear Lord! He is our true Friend. If ever you believed anything I have shared with you, believe this!
Keep your mind and heart focused on all that uplifts you, as the apostle Paul wrote:
"... whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things." - Philippians 4:8
We are born into this world with pain ... one person seemingly alone in a world beyond our understanding, no matter how long we live, no matter how much we learn. With an infinite universe, there is no end to what we may learn and know, and whatever we do know is limited and as nothing compared with that Infinite One. So be humble.
We are seemingly alone, but hopefully surrounded by the love of a mother and father, or other family members and friends, who love us. Even then, each of us struggles with loneliness and seeks to experience a sense of connection with others, a recognition of our being, our importance in living, and validation that we are loved.
We could say that almost everything people do is driven at some level by the need to feel this relationship with others, with someone, to bridge the gap from loneliness to relationship, from feeling lost to finding love. We could also say that everything people do is done in the belief that it will bring them closer to achieving their own true and ultimate good. Yes, all that you or I may choose to do in life has its own ultimate purpose.6
In just the same way, the authentic purpose for our work in healthcare is to promote the health and well-being of the patients we serve. While those of us who work in healthcare may be concerned with treatments, medications, or interventions, if we do not respect the lives before us, or do not affirm the value of the patients we serve, we betray our patients' human need.
Being efficient may help us get through the work day quickly, but our patients need our time and love. They need someone to look them in the eye and recognize that they exist, that they belong, that they are just as much a valued human being! They need someone to sit with them, to be with them, to listen7 and encourage them. We can serve by reminding them of the true purpose of life through our loving actions.
We can remind them that this is a wondrous world where there is a God that created all that is. We can remind them that He is infinitely wise, able to create all things with infinite intricacy and perfection, with beauty all around. We, and they, can see that in this world there really is Someone who knows us through and through, who understands and loves us without reservation, because He does!
We can remind them that there is Someone who cares about them through all the suffering, the changes and stages of life, from our very beginning through our end in this world. We can share our reverence for the almighty and awesome God!
In your own life, you will be tested to see: can you be true to your heart and to Him, and choose to stay truly alive inside? ... even when the world calls you mad? ... even when you've suffered and are tempted to harden yourself and become numb? You know it's difficult to do! Can you be true to your heart and to Him, even when trouble follows you everywhere you go (John 16:33)?
It takes a lot of courage to stay the course when everyone else says you're wrong. Rather than betraying your ideals, there are times you will have to choose between selling your soul for worldly approval, and sacrifice. But, I won't condemn you if you pass over some opportunities to choose what is truly right. I will be proud of you when you aspire to live as true man, steering the course in life that He demonstrated for us. He chose to be here, our God with us, as a living compass so that we could find guidance as we sail through the stormy weather in this life.
Can you remember the joy you experienced running and playing sometimes when you were a little child? ... seeing all that is, then so new to your eyes? That's how we're supposed to be inside even now when we're older (Matthew 18:3). It may seem crazy, but it's true.
Will you live in such a way that you don't lose sight of Him?
We have never wanted you to suffer, and we've tried to protect you so many times, but for man, this is a necessary part of our journey. It's the only way to pass through this world and find Him and the happiness you have searched for all along. Suffering will come one way or another and teaches us many things we would not otherwise know. Why not accept what must be, do what you can to help others and make it a better world in whatever way you can?
Always remember this is part of what sacrificial love means: He opened His arms wide as they pierced Him and then raised Him up. Yet, still He loved us! Even then! They called Him mad. If they call us mad, let us be madly in love with Him and share that love with others, establishing the culture of life!Loving never ends within the culture of life. All creation speaks to us of this truth. Everything we are to do is based upon this never-ending sacrificial love.
This is the heart of the moral law. This is the guiding principle that establishes reverence for life.
Oh! There are so many things in this world to think and worry about! ... jobs, money, who you will marry, the future and all the news from around the world. It is a dangerous world that mankind makes. Nature itself can be a force for danger as well. But, it is not enough to think or do, to speak or create something.
Work in the world is not enough. Experience in the world is not enough. Just going through the motions of life mechanically will never fill your heart or the hearts of those you love. Though I hope you study so many things, it is not enough to know all the logic, literature, philosophy, science or ethics in the world. Though I want you to be successful, it is not enough to be the brightest, most talented or accomplished in any field you may enter.
You may worry about these things, as we all have, but He can show you the way through all of these endless daily challenges. As He told us,
"... donít be anxious, asking, 'What will we eat?,'
If you would know what life is about, take His hand and go with Him on this secret journey. You will never be the same. And you will understand: we are all travelers just passing through this world. He calls to us:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
I reached out to Him and found my heart stolen away by my Beloved. Come along on that magical journey! You will never be disappointed.
You will see things you never could imagine. You will see things that others will never believe. You will know what it means to love and be endlessly loved, for His grace will be given to you. Look within and you will know what is truly right, in each and every situation, for He will whisper and reveal the way of life to your mind and heart.
Entering the world now, you have and will have many questions. In all things consider and understand as best you can the likely consequences of your actions before you do them. Use your mind and reason like a man, a man of wisdom. Deliberate within considering all the circumstances involved in what you propose to do.
When you have felt His love and received the blessings of His Holy Spirit, you will be reborn; you will be enabled to regularly and freely will to do the good, intend the good, and actually choose the good in your actions, and avoid those actions you know to be wrong.8 You will find pleasure in conducting your life in this way for His sake, and this is virtue. Such a life is truly to be praised, and you will find the happiness all men seek!
Without His grace, we only succeed in finding fleeting successes followed by failures and frustrations, for none of us is good, but God Himself (Mark 10:18). The virtuous life, in which we intend, will and choose the good while avoiding the bad, is not attainable without His grace. Man without God in his life stumbles from one mistaken action to another, leading to profound inner disappointment, no matter how much he achieves outwardly in this world. Therefore, human happiness cannot be realized without the dear Lord in our lives.
Sometimes, when the way is not so clear, different choices may seem right to you, and logically defensible, yet only one is the right way. This is why I have spoken of this secret journey. Without coming to know Him, it will often be impossible to know the right way at all. If you approach Him and constantly remember Him, He will guide you and illumine your conscience. He will tell you whether you should go to the left or to the right. Live your life lovingly knowing He is before you always. Remember and follow His law! It is the way that reveals the path in life.
You will hear others insist, "Don't judge!" Yet, all of us cannot help but judge whether actions, behaviors or consequences are good or bad. We are not to judge the goodness or badness of a person himself, but we can and must certainly evaluate and judge actions in this world. This is something that naturally occurs within us and is part of our human nature! We cannot avoid it.
You have been raised to know what is good or bad. You know this. That part of your intellect that evaluates and judges actions and possible actions is that conscience. Conscience unavoidably and habitually judges the goodness or badness of our human actions and encourages the good while warning against doing the bad.9
When in doubt, we must follow our conscience! When in doubt, remember your mother's words, "Be careful!" "Don't be reckless!" Though we must move forward and take risks at times, we need not knowingly invite harm.
In order to successfully achieve our purpose in this life, we will often need to sacrifice some of the things we desire. We cannot walk in two directions at the same time. Use the things of this world for the good of all. Pour yourself out in service to Him and those around, and you will find the way. Don't worry.
Though we must consciously choose the good, striving to exercise right reason, we also need to be mindful of the inclination of our heart and mind, for our actions in the world can only be truly good, and our reason can only be right, if we cultivate inner virtue. It is not enough to only be concerned with our actions in the world. Though we strive for an inner perfection we cannot reach on our own, we must make a sincere effort in that direction. He will help you find your way.
Whatever you do in life, remember Him and take time to pray, speaking to Him as directly as you would speak to those of us who love you, and thanking Him always. Before you say a word to Him, imagine Him just as much present with you as He was when He walked with His disciples and encouraged them (Mark 10:26-27). Set Him before you in your mind and take refuge in Him (Psalm 16) throughout the day. He will be with you and hear you! You will never be alone, and what you do will help build the culture of life which honors Him and reveres the lives He gives.
Every morning and every evening, remember Him!10 When you get up and sit down, when you begin something and complete it, remember Him and give thanks! When you give, and when you receive, remember Him, for He is the source of all good!
You know that there are many who talk about their "pro-life position." Being pro-life is more than a position! Being pro-life means being for life, choosing to be a force for life from the moment life is begun till natural death.11 It means affirming the lives of all we meet and serve every day through sacrificial love, whether in healthcare or not. It means that we see each one of them as a human being, that we validate their reason for living and their worth!
Being pro-life is neither a political stance nor an opinion; it's the essence of the way of life that the dear Lord taught you and me ... the way that He taught us all.
I look to the day my prayers for you will be answered, and you will sail safely through life and add your voice to the Little Flower of Jesus' and know in your heart:
And if one day you are blessed in marriage to have children of your own, show them the glorious and wonderful way of love, caring for them as we have cared for you. Speak to them of Truth, the radiant and splendorous Lord, that they may follow Him all the days of their lives, and in so doing, bring blessings to the generations to come forever more.
When you choose to live in this way, recognizing the awesome miracle of life, sensing God's presence with you, you will find the happiness you seek. You will be a true friend to others. You will know what it means to have truly lived, to be wonderfully alive inside, something most people never really experience. All that you need, He will give you, and you will be blessed!
Utterly trust in Him! This is my word to you.
Now, my children, I remember as if it were yesterday ...
One day you will understand this:
Years have passed, and we've journeyed together for quite a while. Now you are all grown up! Though you are going your way now to eagerly explore this beautiful and amazing world, the time is approaching when I will depart and fly away into His arms. You may not see me, but you will know where I am. My love and His remains, with you. Trust in Him alone!
One sunny day we will all walk along, together again, and continue on a secret journey.
2. Alexander Solzhenitsynin, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
3. Paul J Watson, " Man Crushed by Steamroller On Orders of Chinese Officials
4. St. Thomas Aquinas, "Of Despair: Whether Despair is the Greatest of Sins?"
5. St. John of the Cross, "The Dark Night of the Soul," Bk. I, ch 9, 1579, translated and edited,
9. St. Thomas Aquinas, "Treatise on Man,"
Permission is granted to share these articles with others, to print them or post them on other websites so long as credit is given to the author and Hospice Patients Alliance with a link to this original page.
HPA is a nonprofit, charitable 501(c)(3) patient advocacy organization
All material copyright of Hospice Patients Alliance ("HPA") unless otherwise credited.