It’s foggy out. In a way this is absurd. Spring has come, and the bounty of Spring was filling the land. Now condensed cloud drips off the branches of cedars and firs, hitting the roof and sounding like rain. Both birds and beasts have yet to venture out, the ground and sky are still. The strong wind of last night has stopped, everything has stopped, except for the dripping of water off evergreen needles.
Except for this little contribution it seems I’ve fairly given up on the 21st century, and the 20th century for that matter. Among my considerations of the day I include pondering 5th century monastics, reading a 19th century Russian, or following the spiritual directives of a 16th century Spaniard.
The latter I actually am a little wary about. Not for the usual reasons a fundamentalist might give. I’ve no qualms about finding wisdom or light in traditions distinct from my own, especially as my own traditions delve not deeply into the depths. I’m wary because it involves a commitment, and not a wee one. It’s a month long journey into the spiritual life through a daily series of considerations and exercises meant to heal and illuminate one’s own spiritual path.
There’s no doubt that this is something I need. Last night I proclaimed to no one in particular, “I am no monk.” Of course, I’m not a monk in the practical sense, as I’m not committed to a religious order and am not even in the Catholic or Orthodox tradition, and thus would find becoming a real monk more than a little bit difficult. I mean this in more the classic way which doesn’t demand a formal commitment. It is more a way and pattern of the soul which emphasizes the internal eternal aspects above all other things. Every other part of life flows from this commitment.
I made my exclamation because I’m not very good at that commitment. I don’t take my spiritual life as serious as I should, or at least struggle for it as diligently as I ought. Thus, I am no monk, even if my pattern of life suggests such in the moment.
So, a specific act of regular discipline to reorder my heart, mind and soul might be a wonderful thing. I’ve come to the end of my own self-suggestions and reaching into the traditions of a long established pattern of spiritual renewal isn’t a bad idea. Except, of course, for the fact that doing such on my own is almost completely unacceptable to any who know the Spiritual Exercises. It’s always, always, to be done under the guidance of a spiritual director, who can help lead and guide the seeker through the journey of discovery. My spiritual directors these last twelve years have been dead for over a century at minimum so asking them for particular guidance might be crossing some rather sharp theological lines.
I’ve been led along a lonely path of discovery these many years, where no wise person has come along side as a tutor for my development. This is not acceptable, I know, but it is the reality. Had I been dependent on spiritual guidance I would not have ever discovered the depths, let alone found light in them. So, as my path has been as a solitary thus far, I don’t feel too much worry about pressing the exercises alone, even as I agree this is not to be recommended whatsoever.
The other problem is that I’m more than a little suspect of a result. Of course this is why having a spiritual director is good because they can see outside of our limited purview and point us to wisdom which swirls about that we cannot grasp alone. Others provide encouragement and light when we see darkness. That being the case I’m not as concerned about wisdom not being ‘out there’, more concerned about my ability to apprehend it. Well, I am worried about it being out there, as I figure I will be told the same thing all my recent spiritual explorations have told me… “Wait.”
Do I seek more wisdom because I dislike the wisdom I receive? Do I want answers because I have rejected the answers I have been given?
More than answers, however, I need perspective. Not that I don’t have perspective, it’s that I don’t feel it. I can say it, but not from my soul. I understand it, but when the storms come I am getting so knocked around it’s clear my lines are not as secure as they should be. I know, but obviously I don’t. That’s the problem. I’m burned over land.
So, I wonder and I wander, knowing that I’m not alone whatsoever in such thoughts, certainly not historically. I am just not sure what this all means for me today, or for me in my various interactions, or for me in that which I feel burdened to pray about in an ever increasing measure.
There is, I suppose, only to pray for continued wisdom and guidance. And hope… there must always be hope that as I continue to seek I shall in fact find, and more glorious than that, be found.