Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stable Body, Wandering Spirit

The world feels weighty lately. The state makes war, sins against our bodies and the earth, and ruins the souls of nations. Society ceases to build up community; it divides the peoples, diminishes the loaves and fishes, and turns the hungry against each other. Culture sickens our bodies, pollutes our souls, and starves both. The Church tyrannizes love with truth and forgets that sin, not error, is what separates us from God, and it becomes worse than a useless servant.

These problems are not above me, because I am a part of them all, but they sure do feel beyond me.

Not too long ago, I would be compelled to take action, any action, immediately. Now something is changing. No, that's not right. Not changing, because I still want to act immediately. But something else, another inclination, is arising in tandem.

While meditating in chapel today, it became clear to me that I want to pray better. I've never truly prayed for the end of war. How do you do that? I've never really prayed for survivors of sexual abuse. How do you pray for them? I've never confronted sin, evil, and its attendant violence with the weapons of the spirit. But for a few rare moments in my life, I've never worshipped God with anything like awe and wonder. I want to pray like I have never prayed before. Indeed, I haven't even begun to pray.

While walking home from Neighbors Together, it occurred to me that I had just spent three and a half hours in ministry without any deep awareness of God. I was conscious of other things. I was mindful of other things. My gut reaction to this point of seeing was, "I'd rather stay at home and contemplate poverty than show up at the soup kitchen without my soul. I could do more good that way."

Really? Yes. Today it became very clear to me that my body wants to stay put in the friary, but my spirit wants to travel.

Injustice has not ceased to irritate me. Indeed, I want it to bother me more. More than ever, I want to smash sinful structures and destroy the weapons of our self-destruction.

Ministry is fine, and the work continues to interest me, pose challenges, and present queries for discernment.

However, the desire to pray about the condition of the world; to offer petitions for the world in its sorrow and suffering; and to meditate on how I am to respond is swelling inside. This desire now matches my desire to do something merciful and just. In short, I want to spend a lot more time out of the world. I want to fuel the spirit of prayer and devotion that will fire the action I take when, God willing, I profess my vows for the world.

My body yearns to be still, but my spirit yearns to explore. This is not a contradiction. This is a new feeling. Perhaps it is a sign that I am becoming ready for novitiate?

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