Art by Elizabeth Wang
Somewhere along the road of life, by the grace of God, my soul awoke. And it was hungry, hungry for God.
Its hunger became a fire, a fire that consumed me and ate me up with its intense, devouring heat. I could not rest anywhere except in motion, that long, endless journey that every soul must undertake if she is to meet her God.
It is a strange journey, across arid plains and verdant valleys, across dried parchment-like deserts. A journey of many crossroads and endless sharp turns that confuse and make one clamour for a rest.
But the hunger for God knows no rest. So I go on and on and on.
Yes, it is a strange journey, that slowly makes me shed all the baggage I took for it, baggage I took before I knew that it would be too heavy a load for this kind of journey.
I don’t know where I felt it—somewhere back there by some crossroad.
Now I am baggageless, but still too heavily burdened. My hunger drives me on. For speedy traveling. I must start to shed my clothing.
There on this stone I lay the cloak of selfishness that kept me warm. It is cold without it, but I can walk faster, as my hunger urges me to.
Here on this branch, I hang my dress of selflove and compromise with the world. I shiver now in earnest, but my feet have wings. Yet this sheltered rock begs for my underwear.
Slowly, reluctantly, I shed my undergarments, one by one. Here goes self-indulgence. Tidily, next to it, I lay greed for possessions and love of ease and comfort. Next, not so tidily, go helter-skelter all the things in me that are not God’s.
Lord, behold I stand naked before thee, with wings on my feet. Wings on my feet! Now my journey inward will be swift.
But it is not. For I still stumble and fall and walk haltingly, inches instead of miles, while the hunger for God flays me and urges me to make haste.
Oh, I had forgotten my shoes, the heavy, comfortable shoes that have shielded my feet. Shielded my feet from the cutting stones, from the sharp pebbles. I must unlace my shoes, my comfortable stout shoes, the last covering of my naked soul. The last stronghold of my non-surrender to God.
I hesitate. The narrow path upward is so hard. It has so many sharp stones. So many knife-edged pebbles. But the hunger for God flames in me, a furnace of fire unquenchable, the fire of love, of passionate, utter love of God. I must go on, on that journey inward that alone will bring me face to face with him for whom I hunger constantly, without ceasing.
Quickly, I bend and with hasty, clumsy fingers unlace one shoe, then the other. My eagerness expresses my hunger. Recklessly I throw one shoe this way, the other that, not caring where they fall.
Now I am free, I am free and naked, and my feet have wings, huge wings that carry me across sharp stones and knife-edged pebbles without harm. Now the brambles and thorns that edge the path turn and point the other way.
I am a naked soul, free and untrammelled, driven by the hunger of my love for God, driven by my love for God, on and on, on this journey inward.
I did not know it would be so easy, once I shed all my garments. But now I know, for my hunger is being assuaged, satiated, filled, even as I fly on winged feet along the steep path upward. It is being filled, that hunger of mine, so much, so well, that I can feed others with the surplus of the food given to me so abundantly.
God meets half way the soul that starts on its journey inward, provided that the soul, driven by hunger of love for him, strips itself naked.
That is the secret of his love and of his kingdom, which begins even on this earth. But the price, I repeat, is nakedness complete, even unto discarding shoes.
~ A Meditation by Catherine De Hueck Doherty
Listen to yourself so as to find the path to God within the frail walls of your humanness.
Listen to yourself, for it is you alone who will lead yourself to him, or away from him.
Listen to yourself, listen to God, when you have led yourself to him.
Listen well, for if you hear his voice you will be wise with the wisdom of the Lord, and then you will be able to hear the voice of men, not as a surging sea, or as a mob.
But each man’s speech is his own, a treasure given to you beyond all expectations, because you led yourself to him and listen to his voice.
~ A poem by Catherine De Hueck Doherty