Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I have noticed that the more "things" I look to for entertainment, the more frantically I seek them, and the less fulfilled I become. For example, I drive my car multiple times each week, for approximately one hour each time. Whenever I listen to the radio, I find myself scanning through my pre-set stations constantly, always looking for the next song, another song, a more upbeat song, to escape a commercial break or an annoying DJ...never quite happy with where I am at that moment. Always looking for the next best thing. And on those rare occasions when I do happen on just the right song, the one I had been craving, it never lasts for more than a minute or so -- and then I am back to my restless searching.
The same holds true for email and Facebook, as well. Like a mouse pushing a bar to get a drug, I incessantly check for fresh emails and updates -- anything new, entertaining. But still, the thrill never lasts, and I am always left dissatisfied.
Once that cycle has begun, it is so difficult to put on the brakes. But when I begin my car ride by, for example, playing an audio lecture of the life of St. Augustine, the restlessness and craving never even have a chance. I bought an audio lecture series of Augustine's life two weeks ago, and have been listening to it when I drive. It has a remarkable effect on my demeanor. Not only am I acquiring knowledge, but my spirit and heart are being awakened; I think of God and my relationship to God instead of myself and my immediate desires.
I would love to live in a constant state of God-awareness. My reality is more like an orbiting ellipse between long stretches of self-centered sensation-seeking and short periods of God-centered serenity and focus. The discipline necessary to increase these periods of God-centeredness will not be mine without a struggle. However, it will come as I practice consenting to God's presence and stillness in my life.
Striving always for progress, not perfection.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
My impetus for re-starting this blog is my upcoming wilderness quest, which I am fashioning as a silent retreat. Four days, three nights, me, a 10' by 10' patch of land, in the wilderness. Alone. Except for the wild animals. I will be supported by a community praying for me, but I do not know if I will be soothed by their prayers when things -- creatures? -- go bump in the night.
I contemplated blogging about my experiences and preparation for some months before I actually began to type. I also thought about praying and meditating daily long before I actually began to put my thoughts into actions. I kept thinking to myself, 'Gee, I should really start meditating regularly. I need to prepare myself for my retreat!' And then days would go by, and weeks -- and I would not have meditated. Life got in the way, I had too much schoolwork, I was too tired -- a litany of common excuses. Then, I went to Mass on Ash Wednesday, February 17th. As I sat in the pew, an overwhelming feeling of hypocrisy washed over me. I thought, 'Who am I to talk about loving God? I speak constantly of how much I love theology, and God, but when is the last time I prayed? When is the last time I sat with God in silence? How can I hold myself out as someone who wants to make God, and the study of Him, her life's work -- when I can't seem to find the time to sit, in silence, and listen?'
As my employer, a former Navy officer, would say, "Whiskey tango foxtrot, over?" Or, in more colloquial terms, "WTF?"
I felt a painful disconnect between the way I was living and the way I wanted to live. All I talked about was my love for God, but my interior life was barren. I knew I had to make a change. I figured keeping a blog would help me be accountable. If I committed to a spiritual practice, I would be less likely to break it. So, here I am. A theological neophyte. Committed to God, yet unsure of my faith and the power of my commitment. Nevertheless...here I go.