The news shows last week showed a pilotless F-16 streaking across the sky. It was being flown by remote control. A driverless car is on the drawing boards. We can already buy a vacuum cleaner that moves by itself. Motion detector lights have been available for some time. Drones, now used by the military, will have uses in daily life, but remote control in the spiritual life? It offers us nothing.
The spiritual life, i.e., our life with and in God requires attentiveness, daily practice filling our lives with light, delight, awareness that God is everywhere we are and want to be. Certainly our work offers the world the best we can do, using our skills and education. Certainly, our hearts are full of empathy for people caught up in the world’s tragedies. Certainly we are breathless when we come upon beauty in nature and tenderness in human relationships. All of these are rooted in God’s active presence in our lives. Be sure of it. We are never alone or outside the embrace of our God.
God’s presence and love are not (I repeat) are not in proportion to our attentiveness, but our inner being takes on new depth of union with God when we are attentive.
So how do we learn to be less in remote control and more mindful of God and the gifts of God? Road work ahead. Don’t continue to read unless you have the desire to draw closer to God.
1. Carry around with you in your heart all day long one of the many short phrases Jesus utters in the Gospel. Chew on it. See how it lives uniquely in you. Believe it. Live by it.
A few examples: If anyone asks you to go a mile with them, go two. (Matthew 5.40)
Who do you say I am? (Luke 9.20)
Do you understand what I have done for you? (John 13.12)
There are many more. Find them. Make a list. Go over them often.
2. The Celtic tradition encourages each person to have an anam cara, a soul friend, a person who has a very special place in our lives. A soul friend is a person who can share the ever deepening things of God with us and we with them. Be slow to name someone your anam cara. This person is not just a buddy, a teammate, a spouse or a family member, although (s)he could be one of these. A soul mate loves God with you.
3. The third part of growing in attentiveness to God is to allow yourself a retreat day with God away from home once in a while. Retreats often have a person who can help direct your thinking and praying. You could do a retreat alone or with a group. One such group retreat coming up is at the SSJ motherhouse on Saturday, October 19th. It’s open to whoever wants to come. Go to the SSJ website for details, time and fee. It's called "Dive Deeper" under our Retreat Saturday programs.
Jesus. Be with me as I try to be attentive to You in my daily life. Amen
~Joan Sobala, SSJ