Late last Wednesday night, I snuck into the freezer when no one was looking. My throat felt sore, and surely ice cream was the only cure. Even though I had given it up for Lent. As the first few icy, creamy spoonfuls slid past my lips, I found the anesthetic effect I craved. Then the realization exploded that this new flavor was my top favorite EVER. When the empty container finally flopped on its side and stared accusingly back at me, I hung my head in shame. So much for that Lenten resolution.
Birthing a book has proved to be nearly as hard as birthing a baby. And I should know, since I’ve borne six children already. In her new book The Gift of Birth, theology professor and spiritual director Susan Windley-Daoust characterizes excruciating self-doubt as a sign that the Holy Spirit is at work in the process.
But it would be giving myself too much credit to say that I’ve surrendered to the Holy Spirit. I’m still clutching at control with both hands. I’m plagued by aphorisms like “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” and haunted by memories of when I did it all myself and it still wasn’t enough. Besides, I don’t think stuffing an entire pint of ice cream in my face would signify a heartfelt yielding to the will of God.
And, so, I must admit that the most likely diagnosis of my condition is the spiritual weakness or inattentiveness called sloth. I’m burning the candle at both ends, says my husband. Just as an example, in one upcoming April weekend, I must (a) sing in Carnegie Hall with our cathedral choir, (b) ferry two of our daughters to an out-of-town gymnastics meet, and (c) attend our second-grader’s First Communion Mass and host the after-party. (Not to mention the ongoing post-launch book publicity.) This over-busyness is classic sloth. The busier we get, the less time and energy we have for God.
I have been guilty of ignoring my own advice to make daily prayer my top priority. My soul (and consequently the rest of me) is running on fumes. In showing me my personal weakness, this Lent has revealed to me that the source of my strength does not lie in me but in God. Fortunately, it’s not too late to try again, to taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8). Yep, even better than ice cream.
Copyright 2016 Karee Santos