church in the middle of the trees

Why Bother Knowing That We Really Never Know?

Though we’d like to know our futures and how they will turn out, we never really know what the future holds for us. 

      Coming Full Circle

Almost twenty years ago, I made my first trip to the Monastery of St. Gertrude with a friend who invited me to a contemplative prayer retreat. At the time, I was a mess. Our oldest son was in full rebellion mode and my anger, which had always been just simmering under the surface, was now on high. 

Like lava spewing out of a volcano, unkind words erupted out of my mouth toward our son. For some reason, I thought the louder I yelled, the better my message would get across to him. But my words fell on deaf ears. He just kept doing what he wanted to do, which was to ignore what I didn’t want him doing. 

Though I turned the volume down when I spoke to my husband about our son, my anger toward my husband was evident. More than once I’d demand, “Do something about him!”  

My anger not only poured out all over my husband and son, but God got a few direct hits as well. I vividly recall pounding on the washing machine one morning, and demanding God deliver a solution to me immediately. God’s response, “I’m not about solutions, I’m about relationships.” What was that supposed to mean? 

With nothing constructive occurring in my household, and my inability to change any of the people or circumstances surrounding me at the time, I left for the retreat with my friend. For two days I took the time to sit still and ruminate on the fact that God was God and I was not. 

When I returned home, none of the circumstances had altered one iota, but I could already sense that contemplative prayer had begun to change me in a minuscule way. So in spite of my anger, and in spite of my rebellious son, I continued with the practice of contemplation. 

I also felt drawn to return to the monastery as often as possible, to retreat, fast and be by myself. Though I assured my husband I was not planning on becoming a nun, I had no idea that all my contemplation would lead to the underlying source of my anger and the solution I’d sought. Over time I was led to forgive my dad for all the hurt and harm that his suicide had caused me.

 But that’s not all. I wrote my story, and now I share that story of forgiveness with others. Funny how the last few days I’ve been back at the monastery, this time as the facilitator of a retreat about forgiveness. 

Who would have guessed that from all that mess something such as this would arise? 

Why bother knowing that we never really know? Though we never know what the future holds, we can know and learn to trust that the One who holds our future has good in mind for us. 


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