MEDITATION ON ST. ELIJAH AND CARMEL
In the scripture accounts, Elijah provides an excellent example on how the Lord guides us in our faith journey. God is always sending Elijah to a new place with a new ‘mission’ and showing him a new dimension of spirituality.
When we first encounter Elijah, God has sent him to King Ahab with a message that there will be a drought. A brave, grace filled action on Elijah’s part. Setting aside fear and uncertainty, and go out on a limb for the Word of God.
Immediately after Elijah fulfills this ‘mission’, God sends him to the Wadi Cherith to rest and wait for his next mission.
And the Word of the Lord came to him; “Depart from here and turn eastward; and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there” 1 Kings 17:2-4
God provides water frm the brook, and food twice a day brought by the ravens. Silence and time is all Elijah has now. Silence and time. Elijah knows the best use of his time. No doubt that he prays; contemplates the mission he just completed; and meditating on the ways of God. Here, Elijah could wonder at God’s presence in all of creation. We don’t know how long he was there resting and waiting, but we know it was long enough for the brook to eventually ‘dry up’.
I’m reminded of the waves that we have of faith; the times of great spiritual growth; and the times of the Dark Night where our spiritual lives seem empty and dry. These can be compared to the journeys of Elijah, who went from intense ministry and action, to silence and solitude and silence, back into action when God calls.
When the brook ‘dries up’ (as in our spiritual dryness also), God again provides. Elijah is sent away from the Wadi Cherith to a widown in Zarepath, who is poor and hungry. She uses her last bit of grain and oil to feed him with, and God repays her kindness with an endless suply of grain and oil that feeds herself, her son, and Elijah for many days. Again, we don’t know how long Elijah stays as the widow’s guest.
At some point, her son is very ill, to the point of death; as the scriptures tells us, he “has no breath”. Elijah restores the boy to life.
“And he cried to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, hast thou brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?’ Then, he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, let this child’s soul come into him again.’ And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Elijah; and the sould of the child came into him again, and he revived.” 1 Kings 17:19:22
He stays for a time longer with the widow and the boy, and rests and waits again. Eventually, God gives him a new task. He is to return to King Ahab where he battled and slayed the prophets of Baal. (This is worthy of it’s own entry here soon…). Elijah then tells Ahab that rain will be coming soon.
Mission complete… and he departs for Mount Carmel to rest, and wait. He waits for a small cloud to arise from the sea, and the rains came.
Elijah’s life has been threatened by the king’s wife Jezebel because he killed the prophets of Baal, and Elijah went immediately and hid in the wilderness, where God again sent food and drink; this time by way of an angel. He rested and waiting for two days and ate and drank what the Lord provided for him. Back to work. A 40 day trek to Mt. Horeb.
Mt. Horeb, remember, is the mountain of Exodus. It is referred to as the ‘Mountain of God’ in Exodus 3:1, and named by Moses as ‘Massah and Meribah, and where Moses struck the rock to produce water.
Here, he entered a cave and rested, waited, and listened for God’s voice through an earthquake, wind, and fire until he heard Him in a still, small whispter. This small whisper sent Elijah on his last ‘mission’; to annoint a King of God’s choosing, and to hand his mantle on to Elisha.
In all, from the little we know of Elijah from the scriptures, it seems a good majority of his time was spent resting, waiting, watching and listening. All the while, being fed by God and contemplating on His goodness. But, when God called Elijah into action, he immediately responded and did not look back. God rewarded each ‘mission’ with a period of rest and time to process what had just happened. And most importantly, to prepare for the next time God sent him out. A perfect outline for what we, as Carmelites, should do in our faith journey.
One who rests, watches and listens for the Lord’s voice to active service, confident that God will feed us spiritually with the graces we need to carry out his ‘mission’s’