Monday, August 20, 2012
The Desert of the Daily Soul
I sit under the eaves of my house, and there's a skylight that the rain drums on during thunderstorms.
It occurred to me that our souls are generally dry. We live in this desert, in this lack of water, which is a spiritual desert, not a literal one. The desert fathers may have lived in areas where it didn't rain much, but the desert that they went out to, the desert that they inhabited and struggled in, is this desert of the daily soul, where so little water falls and few plants grow.
We are so used to this environment we don't even realize that it's impoverished.
The Lord brings water to the soul. A higher energy enters us and transforms the inner desert into a place where something can bloom. But this takes years of work and perseverance.
I think we all want this to happen right now. We are unaccustomed to waiting for satisfaction; in a society dominated by short attention span, and the ability to purchase and consume at will, we expect to be able to purchase and consume the Lord, and to have Him at will. The right pilgrimage, the right retreat, the right magazine or cushion to sit on; the right practice. If we shop at the right store, we'll get the right merchandise, and take it home happy and satisfied.
We are unaware of the tensions in ourselves that block what we need to receive. Most of them run so deep that they lie well beyond our ability to sense them. It's only when something higher enters us, that something truly gives way, that we discover we never had the capacity we thought we had, and that we can never acquire it. That it can only be given through Grace. Until then, we struggle against the wrong forces, in the wrong way, for the wrong reasons.
It takes decades to understand our lack of capacity. Decades. The incremental nature of work; the very gradual watering of the inner desert, the slow build up of a more fertile soil that can receive what is necessary; all of this is more or less misunderstood. It's in our nature to misunderstand it. We are impatient men and women embarked on a path where the first requirement is patience.
An organic urge for sustenance needs to arise. Prayer from the intellect is not enough to bring rain; the prayer needs to arise in the body, to belong to the body itself, and meet the mind. We always try to use the prayer of the intellect to awaken the prayer of the body, and yet it does not work that way. The prayer of the intellect does not know the prayer of the body. It cannot know the prayer of the body, because it is not the body.
Conversely, the prayer of the body can know the prayer of the intellect, and it can help it. How this is so, we can't say. Perhaps it is just the way that the structure is conceived. Somehow, if the prayer of the body is real, intellect can know it. But first the prayer of the body has to be organic.
When these two prayers meet, the third prayer of a real wish can enter. Each time this happens, we know what it is when the desert receives the blessing of rain.
I respectfully hope you will take good care.