As I read a little deeper in "A Mother's Rule of Life" by Holly Peirlot, I find myself more and more deeply moved. I definitely see myself and my own journey in this book. The beginning the chapter on the first "P" of life, prayer, she describes a time in her life of utter despair when she went on "The Something Search." She was seeking to fill that hole in her heart. She was not sure what had caused it or what would fill it. It was about the time her father left her family that she also left her Catholic upbringing behind, because she could not see any point in it. After years of seeking for something to fill the void in her heart she finally uttered a desperate prayer for God to reveal Himself to her. In time, He did.
I went through a similar journey during my adolescent years. This is one of the reasons I have said in the past, I feel I have suffered in ways that could send a man to the brink and back. I do not think there is anything more painful than when you become aware of the great void within. Nothing aches like the searing pain of when you feel that hole inside and you have nothing to fill it. And you search and search in all sorts of places looking to fill it and it's like throwing pebbles into the Grand Canyon--it could never be filled this way. Like Holly, I also had a Catholic upbringing to fall back upon. But, if there was a God, He was not revealing Himself to me. (She later points out that some people never have a "moment" of conversion, because they have always lived close to the Lord.)
I remember being a faith filled child, but as time went on and I met the cruel realities of the world about me and it did not seem as though anything would help me away from all the evil. I had no more answers left and no one to turn to. I was in darkness a lot longer than most would guess. Not even my family was aware of this struggle. Then I went on a trip to France with my french class. The first place we were taken by the tour guide, fresh from the airplane, was to Sacre-Coeur Basilica. It is at a very high point in the city of Paris and one can view the whole city, which is why we were taken there, not because of the Basilica. I think I was one of the few students who went into the Basilica. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before--at least not in person. I was not quite sure what I was experiencing, but something stirred within me. I went to the gift shop and bought a Sacred Heart medal. I knew I had to remember this moment. I put it on and that moment began a new era in my life. I wore that medal for nine years until my son was born and the chain broke and I lost it. When that happened, I figured another new era had begun--Motherhood.
The View from Sacre-Coeur Basilica
The Exterior of Sacre-Coeur
The Apse of Sacre-Coeur
The moment in Sacred Heart Basilica was not "magic." I was not healed. I was not saved. But finally, I was awakened to God again. The journey back to the sacramental life and true conversion was a lot longer than that. It was three more years until I was officially back into the Church. It took Reconciliation, Eucharist, Graces of the Holy Spirit, scripture, Catechism and fellowship to bring me back from the brink of despair. I finally had God's love to fill me. It was the only thing that filled me during my whole life.
As I read this section of "A Mother's Rule of Life" all of this came flooding back to me and I remembered the pain of that void. I was thankful for the remembrance. It was good to remember what it was like without God in my life and know that I never want to feel that despair again. It was good to shed tears and know that God is present and was present that day in Sacre-Coeur Basilica. The author's point in sharing this experience is two fold. One must search one's self and one's journey, and seek his or her vocation to know the Rule appropriate for one's own life. The other point, is that it is important to put God first in life, schedule time with God first and actively seek Him first all the days of your life.