Today when I got in my car to go to noon Mass, it wouldn’t start. I was blessed the neighbor was available to give me a jump. After I left Mass, I decided to go get the battery checked as I had an issue with it yesterday. At first, I went to Advance Auto Parts, but the price was more than I thought it would be so I thought I would price-check at the Walmart close by. Unfortunately, their department was closed down for renovation. I returned to my car and prayed as to whether I should just go back to Advance or go check Auto Zone. I felt led to Auto Zone, but headed to Advance Auto Parts. I continued to pray and Jesus was like go to Auto Zone. Really? “Yes.” So, I did. I ended up buying the battery there and when they were swapping it out they couldn’t get it unscrewed because of the amount of the corrosion on the terminals. However, the guy parking next to me was a mobile car mechanic. He took the tools from the employee and the mechanic fixed it right then and there. Sometime God knows what’s best…
Yesterday, I walked into Saint John Neumann Catholic Church to go pray in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in Exposition. Due to Covid, the small chapel, I’ve posted many pictures of, is closed and the monstrance is on the main altar within the main sanctuary of the Church. As I entered through the main back doors from the narthex, I began to walk down the center aisle. All of a sudden it hit me. I had not been in this church the entirety of this year… and this is the church I was to be married in on May 30th of this year.
As I began to slowly walk down the aisle, I started to look around. My father wasn’t beside me. There were no smiling excited faces on either side filling up the pews. There wasn’t anyone in the pews. There were no bridesmaids that went before me. There were no groomsmen at the front. There were no 5+ priests that I had invited. There was no Todd. I walked slower and slower. It was hard to pick up my feet as I walked down the cold dark aisle–alone. There was “just” Jesus. He was waiting for me. Still, there was hurt and mourning of the loss of what might have been.
I got from the far back, entering the doors, where I’ve watched many brides walk through, to the front end of the aisle. Then I proceeded to collapse on the floor in a puddle of tears. These weren’t quiet weeping tears. These were sobbing hysterics. I felt Jesus say to me, “It’s ok. It’s ok to cry. Feel your feelings, My beloved. Feel your feelings.” It was so hard. I laid on the floor in front of Jesus hanging on the cross and Exposed in the Blessed Sacrament crying and crying. I couldn’t breathe through my nose–it was so stuffed up. Before then, I hadn’t really mourned the loss–not like that. I had not allowed myself to feel and cry out those feelings. The biggest thing for me is mourning what might have been. All the future plans with Todd.
I was there for about 30 minutes off and on in tears and conversation with Jesus, My Lord. Even before the engagement was called off, I started feeling like I was actually called the religious life. So, all this happened yesterday despite me now not feeling like I’m actually supposed to be married at all. Still, it doesn’t matter. The feelings were there and I needed to mourn it.
As I sat on a pew and looked to the Man, Whom I am truly madly deeply in love with, there was still pain. This time last year I had a rose gold morganite with Celtic knots on both sides ring on my left ring finger and now I don’t. I’ve looked at my left hand a lot lately. I may be called to religious life, but it doesn’t mean I completely fell out of love with Todd.
Sitting alone with Jesus, I felt Him say, “Even if it was just you and I together for the rest of your life, wouldn’t that be sufficient?” I love Jesus so much and the thought of being espoused to Him is beyond beautiful to me. Yet, there was an extra sense of loneliness in a church where only a few months earlier this year (without Covid) there would have been hundreds of people sitting there to celebrate with me. To be honest, I almost felt like I was in a tomb. It was silent and dark. There wasn’t the smell of incense filling the air. There wasn’t a schola nor my friends’ singing. There was silence with only the whirring of the air conditioner to fill the church with sound.
I looked to the cross where Jesus’ arms were open in love. The thought struck me of knowing I want to lay down my life every day whatever the struggles are. That I want to offer all my trials and crosses to Christ and unite the pain with His death and given it redemptive value. Despite the extreme emptiness of what would have been in the church, there was a deep sense of beauty in the way that Jesus was in exposition and physically present instead of Todd at the end of the aisle. I literally walked down the aisle to my Beloved yesterday. It brought to mind something a friend said to me years ago as she opened the door to the chapel, “Your Beloved awaits you.” That was so very heavenly engaging.
I ended up leaving the church with a smile on my face. My cup was filled with Christ. It is so healthy to feel, to cry, and to mourn–don’t forget that. …and no better place to do it than with Jesus physically present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
+ Pax et Bonum +
Kristen von Clef, OFS
+ JMJ +
Journal Entry 5/20/19
What do you see when you look out to the beach and water? All I see is His LOVE.
A couple weeks ago when I was praying in adoration, I felt God call me to the “Classroom of Love” so that I could learn to LOVE like Him. I knew I had a big heart, but He clarified His is so much bigger. What came to me was:
“Your love is but a grain of sand. My LOVE is every grain of sand on every shore of every beach and the bottom of every ocean and sea.”
Right now, I am looking out my window at the Atlantic Ocean. I’m on vacation with my mom, dad, and Theresa and Joe. About an hour ago, I came in after spending over 3 hours sitting (mostly) and walking on the beach. I sat in the sun, because it was actually cool under the umbrella.
As I looked down at the sand between my feet, I saw I couldn’t even differentiate a grain of sand it was so small. There were thousands, if not, millions…no billions/trillions beneath me. I looked up and down the shore, which seemed endless. Then out to the ocean and began to cry. If my love is but a grain and His is every one, I can’t even fathom His LOVE.
I am so blessed to be at the beach so soon after that came to me. I kept looking up-studying the sand-the vast amounts of it. There was 50 yards of beach in front of me and behind me. The thought came, “But I only see the surface!” How many yards does it go down beneath me! Oh! How great is His LOVE!
Then I thought despite a grain of sand being so small it can affect us so greatly. You only need a single grain to know you have it in your eye. You only need a single grain to destroy a computer so complex. You only need a single grain to scratch and destroy a camera lens. These are negative effects, but it shows what a single grain can do.
Our love, be it so small, can still disrupt the absence of love in society. Still, comparing it to God, if one human love can change a life, how big is His LOVE.
I jogged down the beach and as I walked back, I paused next to a stream of water coming from inland out to the ocean. As it steadily flowed passed, I remember what came to me years ago:
“Your love it but a drop of water. My LOVE is every drop of water in every lake, river, ocean and sea.”
I stood up from my squatted position and looked out to the ocean. Woah. How big is His LOVE?
Now, I have a new found love for the beach, because when I look at it, I see God’s LOVE–unfathomable LOVE.
+ PAX ET BONUM +
Kristen Elizabeth Thérèse von Clef, OFS
+ JMJ +
Below is a story I just told a counselor, who said it is a perspective she’s never heard on this topic. She said people need to hear this…so here I am.
Recently, I had a dear loved one reach out to me for prayers for her daughter, who was just texted by a friend planning on taking her life the upcoming weekend. The daughter, let’s call Faith, was struggling because she knew her friend, lets call June, and schoolmates would be upset with her for getting June into trouble.
I said to my loved one, “Put her on the phone with me right now.”
I told Faith she was doing what is right…
Then I did something I’d never done before… I walked through my life from the time I sat down to suicide when I was about June’s age, 13, until now.
This is for everyone.
If I had taken my life then, my siblings, ages 1 and 2, would have only known me from goofy pictures and silly stories. I would have never shown my bro how to do some of the best card tricks. I would have never showed my sister how to play softball. I would have never hit a home run myself. I would have never thrown a runner out at home from center field. I would have never jumped over the fence the outfield fence to catch a ball desperately trying to win a game. I would have never met the majority of the people I know now. I would have never met my nieces. I would have never met my sister-in-law. I would have never been a bridesmaid in 6 weddings nor a maid of honor in one of them. I would have never been a sister/friend to many women in my life. I would have never become a Franciscan. I would have never made Kris’ Chicken Veggie soup. There would have been no Christmas After Parties. My Goddaughters would have never had me as their Godmother. I would have never worked for HGTV/DIY/Food Network/Cooking Channel/GAC/Travel Channel or L’Oreal, Garnier, Essie, Maybelline… Those names don’t matter though. I would have never met the co-workers I have worked with in any of my jobs–that would be the thing I missed. Many people would never have received a “Kristen” hug. Many people would never have received spontaneous gifts in the mail for no reason. Many people would not have received little notes on their windshields saying “Smile. Jesus loves you.” or “I’m praying for you.”
Yes; lots of prayers would have been lost. Lots of prayers that were answered. Many people would have never been seen by me, a girl who always sees the good in people. Many people who were lost would have never experienced the love I have to give. They would have never seen the compassion in my eyes and the heartfelt glance of my empathy for what they have been through. People wouldn’t have someone endlessly knocking at their door to get them out of bed, stop isolating themselves, and getting out of depression. Many would not have random voice mails of me singing, “I just called to say I love you. I just called to say how much I care. I just called to say I love you and I mean it from the bottom of my heart.” Many dogs would not have the privilege of meeting me. 😀 Many wouldn’t have received random bouquets of flowers. Many wouldn’t have received my crazy Snapchats. Many wouldn’t have heard my monkey/ape noises. No one would have known I would have had curly hair (changed from straight to curls at 17). Many would not of seen my contagious smile. Many people would not have seen me at Mass everyday. Many would still feel lost. There are people that might not be here right now. This heart would not have reached over 1,000 people. There are people I know I have made a positive effect in their lives and that effect would have never been made. I would have never been Christ’s light in many many others life. I would have never known Faith. Yes; I told her that–that’s when she gasped.
I wasn’t saying this to pump my ego. It’s just the truth and I wanted her to see it. If she had turned me in, I would be sitting her down right now and telling her how grateful I am for having saved my life. It may be a bit before she hears it from June, but even if she doesn’t I know the people in June’s life will be forever grateful.
Yes. Suicide doesn’t have one victim. It goes through the years–throughout all the lives of people that have missed out on the life of the one who chose to take their own. Like the butterfly effect–driven by God.
If you are here in the moment seeing no purpose in your life, just talk to your family and friends. They have love for you and would miss you in every day that you are gone.
Every minute in every hour of every day–every person that you meet–has a purpose. If not for yesterday, there would be no today. If not for today, there would be no…
Kristen von Clef
+ JMJ +
Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of my maternal grandmother’s death. What always comes to mind around this time of year are the memories of her life, how I was included and how I was impacted. Another thing that comes to mind every year, are the days leading up to her passing.
Anyone can understand that the loss of a loved one is the hardest part of life—even if they haven’t lost someone themselves. However, no one, whether they have or not, can ever quite find the words to console those that are mourning.
Friend Amongst Strangers
As a 9th grade homeschool student, I went to a weekly Christian co-op to take a Spanish class. This took place the semester before my grandmother’s passing and was the first that I attended. There were a lot of new faces and being a new kid in any school is a little nerve-racking. However, one of the new faces was a girl named, Paula. She had a very peaceful aura and was the first to reach out to me. We saw each other weekly from September to mid-December as we learned our newly discovered language. Towards the end of the semester we began to frequently talk to each other on the phone—for hours. 😛
At the beginning of the new year, my grandmother’s health began to fail. During this time, I was abandoned by my best friend due to the fact they found it too hard to be around someone in that state in life. This was very hard, as I’m sure you can imagine. My mother hurt for me not having someone there to support me.
The conversations with Paula began to become more frequent as I had no one else to whom I could turn. As my grandmother’s health continued to grow worse and my family knew she was close to the end, Paula discerned that she could be a great deal of help to me. She asked her mother if she could come stay with me. And it was then that I discovered the power of “being”.
The Art of a “Being” Human
I’m going to jump ahead a little bit. I’m not exactly sure the day, month, year, but my mom discovered this thing called “Affirmation Therapy.” “…it is a way of “being” with a person as opposed to “doing” something to or for her. Affirmation therapy can be formally described as a way of being affectively present to another human person in a therapeutic relationship in which the therapist reveals to the client his or her intrinsic goodness and worth. Affirmation is a profound way of being with someone that should not be mistaken for a set of simplistic techniques such as giving a pat on the back or a superficial compliment.” When we learned this and we reveled in the gloriousness of it, we looked back on the person who did it best—even though they didn’t know they were doing it.
They were Paula.
When my grandmother lay dying in her bed, I sat on the couch beside her. I sat with Paula. She didn’t do anything. She didn’t talk to me. Most people would look at this as say, “Well, yeah. Of course she didn’t have anything to say, she was a 16 year old. What kind of sage advice would she have?” As I said before, most people don’t know what to say—no matter what their age is. But my point here is: she didn’t have to. She didn’t have to say a word. And she was more than comfortable with not having that ability. She had something greater to give. Presence. She was “being” with me. She was letting me feel my emotions. She wasn’t trying to tell me words to “fix” me. It’s almost unexplainable. I just leaned on her and cried. We did sing worship music and prayed with my grandmother. But for the most part, I just sat there. She just sat there. It was enough.
To Be or Not To Be
This world is going going going. No one sits with people anymore without “doing”. It’s so hard to “be” in this constant state of motion. To live the affirmed life “means learning to “be present to everything in creation” and learning how to live in a more quiet and unhurried manner.” Paula showed me, as part of God’s creation, that I was worth “being” present with. She was quiet. She was unhurried. She was content with not having words to speak. She was exactly what I needed.
We all have trials in our lives with which we need people there to support us. Some of those trials cannot be consoled with words. This power. This power of “being”. Of being allowed to feel those emotions that come on so strongly. Of being able to not be shut down for feeling sad. Of being able to be present with someone without them feeling as if they need to “fix” you. Harness it, my friends. Wield this power. Those you love will be forever grateful you did.
+ Pax + | KK