16 – Asphalt Pilgrim’s Way

IT’S BEEN five weeks since I have sat down to write — weeks in which I have traveled close to 8,000 miles of the nation’s highways. Interiorly only in death will I, or perhaps anyone, know the inward distance.

Since I wrote the previous chapter I have moved twice. First from the rectory in the city where I was assigned some years ago by my Bishop to this industrial city where my spiritual father has said to live, near The Community’s house, while I pilgrim this sabbatical. Then from that first apartment to this house of a friend where I have this little room, dedicated to Blessed Padre Pio, in which to live and write.

The day after moving here the long trip began to visit where decades ago I had been assigned as a layman in the soup kitchen of a great plains city and from whence another trauma occurred like that when the Abbot put me on that train which wrenched me away from my monastic life.

On this latest journey I visited the great mountains of the continent and touched the majesty of our Heavenly Father, or rather was touched by His Majesty.

On that long trip I touched the dying life of my mentor from when I first joined the Community.

Once returned here passed again through the mystery of grief and death, as four friends were called to heaven.

Just the other day I joined the community as we carried the body of my mentor to its final resting place in the sand and rocks at the base of a great hill near the great river, upon which the first martyrs of this continent had traveled in their passion to bring Christ in His Sacrament and Gospel into the lives of our aboriginal ancestors.

After the funeral my spiritual father urged me to resist further travel, to complete this work.

Suddenly a great fear washed over and within my being — having been away from writing for so many weeks, have I lost the flow, the trend, the simplicity, the courage, the ability?

So today since the wee hours of this morning I have fretted, struggled, walked around this house, picked up and laid down again the original notes for this work, unsure, unsure, unsure, until the grace was given: sit, trust, and write.

The man who does not permit his spirit to be beaten down and upset by dryness and helplessness, but who lets God lead him peacefully through the wilderness, and desires no other support or guidance than that of pure faith and trust in God alone, will be brought to the Promised Land. He will taste the peace and joy of union with God. He will, without ‘seeing’, have a habitual, comforting, obscure and mysterious awareness of his God, present and acting in all the events of life. The man who is not afraid to abandon all his spiritual progress into the hands of God, to put prayer, virtue, merit, grace, and all gifts in the keeping of Him from Whom they all must come, will quickly be led to peace in union with Him. His peace will be all the sweeter because it will be free of every care. {al}


It is, then, not some stressful, complex, issue of recall or talent or anything like that.

It is a simple matter of obedience, the duty of the moment.

This sabbatical is to do the will of the Father.

The will of the Father is to write, pray and paint, articulated by the Father’s proximate presence in my life, my spiritual father and his directive to me.

So, I pray, I sit, I am touched by grace, I write.