Perfectly imperfect!

St. Teresa of Avila
I recently finished reading a biography of St. Teresa of Avila by Shirley du Boulay. What can I say but that once more I have been kicked out of my comfort zone. I had read biographies of her life in my earlier days in the convent but for some reason she has made a return to my reading shelf. Here as in all her major writings, the reformer of Carmel has that gift in making us believe that she is speaking directly to us. She doesn’t compose a long soliloquy on God’s wonders or present a third-person discourse on the objective conditions for a more fulfilling life. Instead, Teresa seems to sit down with her reader, seeking out individual needs and also possible resistances to what she proposes. She establishes a You-and-I relationship and tugs at your sleeve if she fears you might walk away. There is a strength in Teresa which is fruit of the strong union she has with the Lord. Her sole desire is to love him and serve Him, listening to the strong inspirations which He places upon her heart, inspirations that she can't ignore.

Before the immensity of the gift of God's love, it is easy to feel weak and powerless. We see how incapable we are of loving and how incomplete and marred our response is. We see how we fall so easily and yet the gift of that free, freeing and unconditional love is there all the time. It is the call to become holy by loving as  the Divine Lover loves. Whenever we give without counting the cost or calculating the return, we learn to bear the beams of love which make up the Cross. The daily pinpricks of community or family life can make it harder to love others or on our own part, make us develop a hard shell where we refuse to let ourselves be vulnerable and loved unconditionally.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus
The other Teresa (Therese of the Child Jesus) devised her own method of becoming a saint, her 'Little Way'. Every situation can be become an arena for holiness. In her road to holiness, she shows her daily struggle in striving for perfection. There is the call to patience with the sister who has the annoying way of fidgeting with her Rosary or who inadvertently splashes her with dirty water. Each of these was an occasion to restrain in the impulse to judgement and resentment, to enlarge her capacity for patience and forgiveness. She was not perfect but she was constant in her commitment to become more Christ-like everyday.
I received a link to this beautiful video by Danielle Rose which really just sums up for me at the moment what it means to be a pilgrim who is perfectly imperfect, unlovable yet loved and freed by the mercy of Jesus who never ceases to surprise me every day! I see how I had my plans, my goals, my expectations and yet the Lord took it all and led me another way. I am blessed to have those minute moments of self-understanding, helped along by others who walk with me and I see that as Teresa of Avila could say: "It is a great favour if the Lord sends us a single day of humble self-knowledge,even at the cost of many afflictions and trials." Yes, it is a great grace when we are given new eyes to see where our niche in life is, where we belong, where we fit. However, the deep yearning we often feel in our heart will be satisfied only when we return home to God: this is our home and we continue to be pilgrims.

The Saint that is just me:

Oh I thought I'd be heroic and inspiring.
I wanted to offer you the greatest sacrifice.
Like all the saints who've gone before me,
I tried to prove my love for you and so to gain the prize.

I thought I'd be a martyr like Cecilia,
I hoped I'd disappear like St Thérese,
Or wear a hidden crown of thorns like Rose of Lima,
To heal the sick and raise the dead.

When you hung upon the cross looking at me,
You didn't die so I would try to be somebody else;
You died so I could be the saint that is just me.

I wanted to be poor and free like Francis,
To cut off my long hair like lovely Clare,
To be faithful like Mother Teresa in the darkness—
Lord, won’t you make me just like her?

I tried to kneel for hours in the chapel corner,
To persevere like Paul with all my sleepless nights,
To stay awake and trim my lamp with ten wise virgins,
To really give the devil a good fight.

When you hung upon the cross looking at me,
You didn't die so I would try to be somebody else;
You died so I could be the saint that is just me.
Just me, just me, you died just for me
Just me, just me, you died just for me.

You saw that I was perfectly imperfect,
O happy fault, the sin of Adam’s pride.
That’s the reason that you became man
And bore the New Eve from your wounded side.

If it weren’t for my sins and wounds and weakness,
Then you wouldn’t have married me upon the cross.
Why do I fear being seen naked and broken?
That’s  why you came—because I need you that much.