It is nearly the third week of Lent and once again I find myself filled with the resistance of a petulant child or like my dog who turns his back, refusing to see what he doesn’t want to see. I have such a resistance to spiritual discipline. I quit my centering prayer practice after three months. I forget to pray the examen often. I don’t journal regularly. I’ll easily skip my yoga class. I quit the Nineteenth Annotation (St. Ignatius’ rigorous spiritual journey of reflecting on the life of Jesus) after a month. I eat meat on Friday. I skip Mass. Resistance, resistance, resistance.
I hear the words: “Pray as you can, not as you can’t.” And at the same time, God’s question in Genesis, “Where are you?” The answer is that like Adam and Eve, I am hiding. I am hiding from God’s gaze, generosity and radical acceptance. I don’t think I can bear it. I don’t think I can hold it. If I stare, like Moses, at the burning bush, will I smolder? If I submit myself to the necessary smoldering, how much will it hurt? How much of me will be left?
And so I hide. I hide behind my story, my sadness, my fear, my belief that I am never, ever enough—my functional atheism, not trusting in God’s abiding goodness.
The one thing I continue to do, pretty much on a daily basis, is read. I guess I can control that. This reading feels safer than being completely naked before God. I read the daily scripture. I read spiritual books and poetry. I seem to need to borrow other people’s words, to climb upon their shoulders to catch a glimpse of the Divine. In these texts I find a way to access Truth. Sometimes the words are empty and stale. But sometimes, sometimes the words resonate deep within. Sometimes leading to moments of silence. Sometimes prompting me to write. Sometimes to explore art. Is God finding a way through despite my best resistance?
I do recognize that underneath my resistance there is a profound longing, such a deep, deep longing. This longing seeps out. It brings me to tears. It makes itself known in my dreams. The longing brings me back over and over throughout the days, months and years to seeking. I seek the missing pieces, the rest of my story, the unfinished me, the ultimate resting place for my heart. I am not sure but I would like to believe that God peers behind the bushes…that God seeks me more and comes to meet my longing.