“The world's thy ship and not thy home.” (Saint Thérèse of Lisieux).
Recently, I was speaking with a dear friend of mine who had suffered many heartbreaks and much sadness in her life. Her husband had died many years ago, when her three children were very very young, and she had been left to raise her family alone, and she felt the weight of this terrible cross very strongly in her life and in the lives of her children…
And I have been reflecting very much on the aloneness of this dear soul. You see, never having experienced any truly great Cross in my life, I have nothing to which I can refer in order to understand my dear friend’s sorrows.
And yet, during our conversation – no doubt through the intercession of the Beloved Holy Spirit – it occurred to me that the perception of being alone, the loneliness of this precious soul, is merely a façade and not any true indication of reality of her lived experience…
That is a massive statement I know, and is not designed to trivialise the terrible, heart-wrenching grief that comes of loss. Rather, it is a recognition – through the eyes of Faith – that my friend’s husband was, through the INFINITE Grace of God, MORE available to His family after death and before it...
You see, if we consider all things with the eyes of faith, then we KNOW (not think or imagine or guess, we GENUINELY KNOW) that ALL THINGS are turned by God to the GOOD. And this is true of terrible tragedies, like the death of my friend’s husband too… You see, while that terrible tragedy was not part of God’s original plan – God does not DO EVIL THINGS – God used that evil to make a better plan for my friend and her family… My friend and her children needed the soul of their husband and father, and God made sure that his soul was in a place where it was MOST ACCESSIBLE… And that shows that though it would have been easier if this soul had lived a long Earthly life, it would not have been BETTER!
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux said, “The world’s thy ship and not thy home.”
And I have been reflecting on that phrase since speaking with my dear friend, because Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is correct!
You see, living in this world is pretty much like taking a journey on a ship – it is merely a passage or a process from one destination to another. And – Thank God – this journey is only temporary. I shudder to imagine what horrors would await us in this lifetime if we were forced to endure it forever. After all, if we were forced to live forever in this world, we would have to endure endless upsets, sadness, grievances, and spiritual dryness, along with all the beauty and wonder of this life. Over time, the longing for God would overwhelm us (even if we failed to recognise that longing for what it was inside our souls).
When we go on a journey on a ship there are times when the waters and smooth, the entertainment and scenery are beautiful, and the weather is clear. At these times, the journey on the ship is so enjoyable that one could be forgiven for forgetting that it is not the JOURNEY on the ship that is the point of that moment, but the final destination instead! And life is like this for us too. You see, just as we can be so comfortable on a ship that we can forget that we are on a journey to another place, we can be so comfortable in our Earthly life that we can forget that we are on a journey to and ETERNAL one!
And I have been thinking about that today. Because my Beloved prayed to God the Father for me – and He prayed for you too. And in His prayer He said, “Holy Father...I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that Thou should take them out of the world, but that Thou should keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:11b-19).
And I take such comfort from my Beloved’s prayer for me, while I journey onward, on the ship of life…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.