Our adult Bible study has just finished studying Romans. I enjoyed it and now have a new appreciation for St. Paul. In these first weeks of Lent I have been coming back to this verse,” What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate” (Rm 7:15).
I am not able to move beyond this wall I have in my soul. It is so difficult to describe why at this point in my life I still have such fear of letting go of things which are not helpful for me. I am often ruled by fear of failure or success. It is ironic that two opposite outcomes prevent me from moving forward.
I pray, I receive the sacraments, I help others on their faith journeys, and yet I often feel like a fish flopping on the deck wishing to either be thrown back in the water or cooked for dinner; anything to relieve me of this spiritual angst and ennui. I do not read books that I think can help me; I devour them as if I will find the answer to save myself from the misery of trying to keep figuring myself out.
A few months ago, I began each day with Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and then went on to include silence as part of my prayer. I was using this book, Contemplative Retreat by Franz Jalics, S.J., and I found it to be a great practice. I was so much calmer and in control of my emotions. It seemed no matter how full my days were I had time to do all that was necessary.
And then I stopped. I had a bout of insomnia, and then was totally sidetracked into thinking I could just do the Morning Prayer and it was enough. Well, enough does not cut it at this time in my spiritual life. I have no obligations that keep me from focusing on prayer. It is simply my own lack of discipline and refusal to put my spiritual needs first that keep from focusing on my spiritual needs. And when I do not take care of my spiritual needs most everything else suffers.
So now I must go back and begin again. I know, just as I know my name, what to do. But as St. Paul said, instead “I do what I hate” and then suffer the negative consequences. If you are still with me after all these mental wanderings, I will say this, put the spiritual life first and the rest will follow. This wisdom comes not from me but from all the great saints in heaven and some who are still here on earth. It may have taken me a long time to realize this truth, but I do now and so I will go forward into the silence.
Copyright 2013 Deanna Bartalini