I am heading for a meeting, the purpose of which I am unsure. But, let me backtrack and give some background both for the meeting and for my uncertainty. It goes back to my encounter with Goliath. For those who have not been following this blog and the drama with Goliath, here is the first installment of what appears will be the Goliath series: Tasked. The second installment is here: Decision?. Now the tasking and the decision-making seem to be rolled up together, and absolutely nothing is clear. Argh! Help!
Details? They follow, but to understand them, you will need to be familiar with the two postings above for this is actually the third in a series.
After what I thought was case closed, tasking completed, following the SFO Council meeting where I explained the problems with Goliath, the name I had given to the Formation Director who systematically belittled people, put up barriers to profession by the most spiritual among the group, and seemed intent on snuffing out any discussions of deep conversion at formation meetings (even general spiritual discussions he would nudge out of the conversation, moving it into more secular or rules-oriented topics). Worse, several of us felt a cloud of evil surrounding him, which made it difficult for us to meet in a small, enclosed space with him. The outcome, with which we had been left after meeting with the SFO Council about this (not an easy matter to arrange, either, as you know if you have read the first posting on this topic) was one that left N and me, the two who presented the case to the Council, filled with elation:
(1) No one who objected to being with G would be required to attend Formation until a new director came into place (some unspecified time in the future);
(2) Meetings would be held in San Ignatio, making them easier to attend by local people who could not afford to go to Salts where the director lived (something that G had been insisting upon for his personal convenience);
(3) One or more senior members of the organization would be present at all Formation meetings to ensure that spirituality was not waved aside and that the presence of God was always requested.
That lasted for two months before G fought back. Soon, he had intimidated the three candidates who remained in Formation to come to Salts. Since none of them were from San Ignatio, I suppose it did not matter although San Ignatio is considerably closer to their homes, an important fact when considering that one of them suffers from agoraphobia. At least, however, Goliath is not allowed to be alone with candidates. That is a major accomplishment for the side of good, and G is not happy. In writhing to extricate himself from the "cell" he has been placed in by the Council, he, of course, has tried to blacken my name and reputation with all with whom he comes into contact. I don't worry about that. I did as God asked. The interesting and perhaps not surprising result, then, is that G's efforts have been turned against him. People other than those originally involved have begun to see what N, O, E, and I saw months ago, and now G is becoming marginalized, or at least his efforts at bringing evil into God's organization are being deftly turned away. It is so interesting and encouraging to watch God defend His people.
Nonetheless, when the two strongest Council members, AR and L announced that they would be resigning in protest over G and what he has done and is doing, N and I felt that the side of good had clearly lost ground. There was still no spiritual advisor, whom we felt could balance the force of G. So, N and I invited AR and L to dinner to try to convince them to (1) stay on the Council and (2) push for a spiritual advisor.
Donnie cooked a wonderful spaghetti dinner for us, which everyone enjoyed. N ran about my kitchen helping serve and clean up. (I am lost in a kitchen. Send me to the war zone in Afghanistan? Sure, no problem -- and that really is on the docket for me for most of the summer. Put me into the kitchen, and I become nervous and confused.)
We began our dinner meeting with prayer, and it seemed that God stayed with us throughout. The dinner had not been necessary, however, except as a wonderfully supportive coming together of sisters. AR and L had already taken back their resignations; although they might be very frustrated, they realized that they, too, had at least an implicit tasking. They had also pushed forward the hunt for a spiritual director and had identified a local nun, whom I know quite well; she would be ideal -- very spiritual, honest, and strong. She will attend our next SFO meeting and make a decision as to whether she will join us as spiritual advisor.
AR and L said that they were concerned that the others and I had been hurt by G. Not so, I assured them. I was not hurt. God gave me a tasking. I did it imperfectly perhaps but to the best of my ability, letting the chips fall wherever they might. I added that I probably cannot be hurt because God would not allow me to be hurt. L and AR did not understand that latter part, about God not allowing me to be hurt, but I suppose that does not really matter. And, yes, I know that sometimes God does allow His people to be hurt if there is a greater purpose, but in the long run, the greater good becomes clear and the hurt turns to something valuable.
What was clear from our discussion was even more encouraging than our meeting with the Council. First and most important, G is receiving oversight. In L's words, "no one is allowed to be alone with him, and no group is allowed to be alone with him." Clearly, G is feeling boxed in. He lashed out at AR and L, telling them "you betrayed me." They laughed and told him that they could not betray him because he is not holy; they worship God, not him. I wonder how that went over! AR and L also told me that MB, the minister, had "found her voice and her role" on the Council and was no longer being intimidated by G or taking directions from him that are self-serving, wrong, harmful, and even anti-Franciscan. It seems to me that AR and L have also found their voice!
So, just when I thought everything was over and I could make some kind of decision about my participation in the SFO, that I had completed my tasking by the Council's reaction in containing G, the saga suddenly continued with G fighting back. Then, when that seemed contained, when the other members of the Council had found their voice, and I assumed that now I could move on, N called me (yesterday) and said that AR and L want to meet with us for a pre-Council-meeting discussion. Neither of us knows why.
Nonplussed by this information (and the sinking sense that my tasking has still not been completed), before leaving for the meeting, I asked God what He would have me do. In response, I heard two words, more impressed than spoken, that absolutely flabbergasted me: "Love him."
Love him? After everything I had been through? After making a fool of myself in front of the Council by revealing that I had been told to "Let Goliath know he cannot treat My people this way?" Love him when I seem to have been tasked to de-claw him? Love him when his intent toward me has been clearly stated -- he wants me out of the way, completely out of the way, gone -- and refers to me only in the scathing-most terms? Love him when the characteristics that best describe him -- ambition, pride, condescension toward women, derision of the poor, selfishness -- are ones that repel me? Love him when I feel Evil pulling at him, even enveloping him to the point that at times I simply recoil? Love him? Lord, You are indeed inscrutable!
If God says love him, though, I guess I have to learn how to do that although I don't really know how. I do pray for G very frequently. Perhaps that is a start. I can bring myself to hug him, but from his side it is always a cold, mechanical, public gesture. I hope that what I return is not the same, but it is admittedly not some kind of passionate care and concern. Lord, how do you define love?
I guess the first step must be learning what God means by love, and then maybe I will be able to love Goliath. Right now, though, I have to run off to a meeting and, on the way, decide whether to share this new "enlightenment" with the Council members who probably have already written me off as a bit "touched" after I shared with them the earlier visions and locution. I will let you know soon what happens.
(This post was written last Sunday; I am just now getting a chance to post it. The meeting has taken place, so stand by for a post on the results and next steps in the sage that this tasking has produced and is continuing to produce.)