One of my favorite legends of all time has been that of Robin Hood. What's not to love about a man who forgoes worldly comforts to take from the unjust excess of the rich to give to the poor? Throw in a love story and boom, I'm sold. Recently, the hubs and I watched the BBC's "Robin Hood" series on Netflix and, besides being very well-done, struck some unexpected chords with me. (Be forewarned of spoilers. So skip all the Robin Hood paragraphs if you care. But that would mean you'd pretty much have to skip my whole post. So, go watch the series first if you care about spoilers and then come back).
Over the past few months (few years) my faith has been shaken and stretched. My understanding of suffering and the militant nature of our journey on earth has been tested. I've doubted, I've cried, I've reconciled, I've fallen, I've been confused, and I've kept on believing. All of my issues seem to come from the same place: Is is all worth it?
In seasons 1-2 of "Robin Hood", Robin and Marian fight, steal, and save for the good of England. They uncover plots to cheat the people out of more money and livelihood and one to kill King Richard, who is away in the Holy Land. While their relationship goes through ups and downs, it is obvious to anyone who has ever heard the Robin Hood story before that they will end up together. Why? Because they are better together. Robin says as much when he proposes to Marian (quite possibly the best proposal I've ever heard. Yes, I know it's scripted but still. Dude. Check it out here. And men, take notes). At the end of the season, once they have saved the King, they do marry. With her final breaths, Marian recounts that she is proud because she has given her life entirely for God, country, and love.
In season 3, Robin Hood returns to England and basically has a crisis of self. Throughout the (not as good by a long shot) season, Robin struggles, implicitly, with the question "Is it all worth it?". He has given his entire life for the good of country and in the service of the King and God and has lost everything he has loved and cherished-- his lands, his life, his love. But what has he gained?
For Robin Hood, as for me, this question was not fully answered (though we see him die peacefully, with Marian meeting him to take him into heaven). Maybe this question isn't meant to be fully answered in this lifetime, maybe it's proving the point that our home isn't here on earth. Any good Christian will answer the question for you: "Of course it's worth it! Christ died for you. He clearly thought it was worth it, so you should, too." And while I know this is the Truth, I can't help but struggle with it. A priest friend and spiritual director of sorts once told me, "Not all of your questions have answers...yet."
As she was dying, Marian said to Robin Hood that they will have all the time they need in heaven because they certainly didn't get enough in this lifetime. How I long for her certainty! And that is the purity and certainty that she conducted her whole life with. If the situation had been reversed and it had been Robin dying, I am positive that Marian would still have continued on with the same certainty until her own life came to an end. I don't have that certainty, that grace. It is said that St. Francis of Assisi was so remorseful for his sins and so worried that he would not be granted heaven because of them that God gave him the grace of knowing that he would go to heaven, a grace usually reserved for those in purgatory. Certainty is a consolation I am not afforded.
"The route on which I am has no consolation for me, and nevertheless it brings me all consolations since Jesus is the one who chose it, and I want to console Him alone, alone!" - St. Therese of Lisieux
I'm often drawn to Mary, especially as Our Lady of Sorrows, in my questioning and in my fear and sorrow. But one aspect I have just not gotten over or made sense of was that she was without sin and only had to wait three days to be with her love, Jesus, again. I am far from sinless and have to wait much longer. I turn most often to my patroness, the Little Flower, as her simplicity always gives me comfort and direction: "Sanctity does not consist in saying beautiful things, it does not even consist in thinking them, feeling them! It consists in suffering and suffering everything." Sanctity is suffering. Gold tested in fire is not purified until it has come through the fire. This is the fire. This earthly life is the fire testing me, purifying me. But I will not be purified until I have passed through this life and I will not know the answer to my question until then, either.
Until that time when I am afforded the answers to my questions, I must merely walk on, must merely struggle and suffer. In the recess of my mind, in the farthest corner of my heart I know that it must all be worth it or it wouldn't be so elaborate. If it wasn't worth it, I would not find hope in the time spent with my husband, looking at my little girl, in receiving the Eucharist. The specifics, though, are still a mystery. "Without complaint, everything shall I suffer for, in the love of God, nothing have I to fear." -St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart. Before I really started questioning and doubting, before so much was taken from me, I lived by this exclamation, and I must live by it again. However, it says nothing of not doubting or not struggling or not questioning, but it says to live without fear. Though it doesn't quite seem to make sense, the answer to "Is it worth it?", on earth, is "Live without fear".
For what it's worth, live without fear.