Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lawn Chair Catechism, Last Chapter

Ever have a moment where the Holy Spirit taps you on the shoulder and shows you something of yourself you've been avoiding? 

Boy.  Does it stink. 

It stinks because it seems like everything was so obvious, and yet here I was, blind.  It stinks because it then requires something other than what has come before.  It stinks because wherever it is that the Holy Spirit shows you yourself, you have to either answer the call, or reject the Holy Spirit, and the human spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak from the atrophy of not doing.  

I know what you're thinking. Sherry...when are you not doing?  And it isn't a question of how busy you are, but of the spirit with which you are being busy.  This is my great struggle in everything.  I like to be involved, connected, invested, but it is partially an ego trip, because then I can say I'm involved, connected, invested.   I like to read books, but again it is partially an ego trip because it is to be able to say that I am well read.  I like to write but again it is partially an ego trip to get my name out there, to get published, to get praise, to get paid, to be thought of as a writer. 

But to work with the Holy Spirit, for Christ, I have to will to do something for anyone, everyone, other than myself.  Even cleaning the house can be an extension of my ego, when it is not an extension of my vice of clutter and vigilant sloth.  It is a hard thing to recognize that I am a desperately needy soul.  It is equally hard to embrace the reality that God loves my desperately needy soul, He doesn't tire of it, though He knows I tire of being so damn needy. 

What does God want me to do as a disciple, how does God want me to be an intentional disciple bringing Christ to others?  How do I know when I've hit the mark?   And for me, more importantly, how do I know when I've missed or am going off track? If I think of Mary as a compass, she always points to Christ.  If I look at my actions as the wind, is my soul's sail moving toward Christ, or not?

I've felt flat in prayer, flat in what I do, a spiritual flatness that indicates whatever else I am doing, I am not moving, I am drifting, my sails are not tight, and I lack the spiritual direction I should have.  You can't lead if you are adrift. You cannot call others to Christ if you are stagnant. How do I get unstuck? Unflat?  In sailing, you tighten the lines, align the rudder to the wind and follow the compass. 

Who is the compass?  Mary, The Church, scripture, Christ's words.  What are the lines and the rudder and the sails?  The lines are prayer.  I've fallen down on prayer, flatness does that, and the soul, trying to feel less pain at the dryness of prayer, thinks not praying will feel better. It doesn't.  The rudder translates to the sacraments, the gifts of grace that orient one toward Christ and bring the wind of grace to the sails --the will of me that wants to cooperate so desperately but often tacks wrong.

Going back to the mirror.  This is the last week of the Lawn Chair Catechism. This week, the question was,
In your own faith:
  • Have you ever felt isolated in your quest to follow Jesus?
Yes.  I believe that's just exactly what I just described. I suspect part of the isolation is due to my husband's brutal work schedule as of late.  It's not his fault.  It's not mine. It just is.  But it is not good for me to be alone.  I don't find God as easy to find absent the company, the community of others.  I love the mass, especially going up to receive the Eucharist.  I feel a wave of grace and overwhelming gratitude to everyone that is there.  I hope all their prayers are answered and that they know it.  I love them for coming.  It happens often to me, seeing all of the people come up to receive.  They are all bringing their crosses, their joys, their troubles, their worries, everything and it moves me every single time.  It is a gift of great beauty, their coming and I'm so grateful.  My kids always find me near tears after communion because of the sense of gratitude I can't deny and it is for the Eucharist and the body of Christ I see witnessing in the Church.  If I have a momentary taste of Heaven, of being wrapped in joy, it is then. 

When I am at home, even surrounded by people that love me and that I love, I sometimes feel the isolation of being a stay at home mom, bound to the house, and the isolation of being a very small fish on the internet, a blogger that makes a clanging noise of words on the internet demanding "look at me."
  • What are ways you have built a community of spiritual companions?  This is where I've fallen down, I used to be active on the Parish Council, then on HSA, then as a leader of the Fall Festival, but last year, I did not actively participate in part because I felt overwhelmed by the tasks more readily at hand, managing two kids in high school, two in middle, three in elementary, one in college, one in pre-k special needs and one toddler.  I pulled back, hoping I would serve the more immediate people in my life better.  Somehow, pulling back did not translate to more or better time.  I'm not sure why but it was a year of lying fallow that while perhaps necessary, was equally isolating.   I need to sail in a fleet of ships, all pointed toward Christ.  Perhaps I need to let the sails fill and start moving and others will follow.  How?  I don't know. 

  • But Sheryll Wendell gives a good template for starting at the end of her book when she quotes CS Lewis about how it is impossible to think too much about the glory in t he hereafter of one's neighbor. Again, the mirror was held up, my experience after communion is the vision of all of my neighbors in their glory of the hereafter.   It's time to stop drifting and get to work making this soul of mine ready for deeper waters.  


Christian LeBlanc said...

Life goes in phases; it's better to avoid burnout and wait for the right time to do something more, or something different.

Hal Brey said...

Great images this week Sherry! Keep the rudder in your and and never let go. Oh yeah, always remember; turn into to the wind.

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