The Death of The Grinch

I recently finished reading a book entitled The Practice of the Presence of God (with Spiritual Maxims). It is a collection of thoughts by and about a simple monk who lived in the seventeenth century. He was not an abbot or a prior. He is not (yet) a Blessed, much less a saint.

He was the doorkeeper and kitchen-hand for his monastery.

Despite his humble position, he was revered for his holiness. His thoughts on “practicing God’s presence” have been transmitted by his confreres and have enhanced the spiritual lives of millions…including me.

I have learned a lot about Jesus and His Church over the last couple of years. I have tried really hard (in spurts) to become holy. But I fail, continuously, to make what I would consider “real progress”. It’s been, at times, quite frustrating.

So I’ve been looking for the missing piece, for the next step, for whatever it was I could do to make this virtue thing happen.

But, as Brother Lawrence’s little book helped me see, there are two problems with that.

The first is that I’m quite impatient.

I have this idea in my head of Jesus, and I know how deeply true His love and existence are, but my ability to love Him back is just now developing. Slowly. So. Freaking. Slowly.

And it was the same for Brother Lawrence.

As I read, he talked about being ever mindful of God’s presence, of learning by constant practice to raise your heart and mind to His, of living in a state of gratitude for and awareness of our Divine Beloved. He said it would be hard at first, but once you became acclimated to it, it would bear incredible fruit in your life and the lives of others.

Great! I thought. This is what I have needed to hear! This is the missing piece!

As I read further, I quickly became dismayed. He said it “only” took him ten years of constant dedication to this task before it became second nature.

Only ten years. Of constant dedication.

Shit.

I keep wanting something to happen fast. But it won’t. Not in my marriage. Not in my professional life. Not in my prayer life. I just keep encountering little choices, little dramas, and my decisions in these moments either fold my broken little heart back in on itself, or they stretch the edges of my love just a little further, creating a bit more space for love and light to enter.

I sometimes wish I was like the Grinch, whose heart just magically grows three sizes in the blink of an eye.

grinchsmile

But it doesn’t work like that, at least not for me. And, on second thought, I’m not sure I’d want it to, especially when I look at St. Paul: He had the dramatic conversion moment, but then had to spend the rest of his life enduring mockery and frustration and imprisonment as he followed Christ’s call.

Perhaps I shouldn’t complain as much about the gradual approach.

But nonetheless, it is difficult to be patient with myself. It’s difficult that I can’t just flip a switch to make myself a certain way. But I can tell, when I stay faithful to my prayer, faithful to putting myself in God’s presence, that something is happening to me, something good and beautiful and difficult.

As I will elaborate on in my next post, all I need do is keep showing up and trust that God will do the rest.

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This entry was posted in Detachment, Discernment, Faith, Holiness, Prayer. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Death of The Grinch

  1. mamadeuna says:

    I was feeling exceptionally sad about my helplessness for the Drake family tonight and went searching for your post about the passing of our uncles. I soon started to “binge” read your blog posts and am glad I did. This one in particular was especially helpful…

    “I just keep encountering little choices, little dramas, and my decisions in these moments either fold my broken little heart back in on itself, or they stretch the edges of my love just a little further, creating a bit more space for love and light to enter.”

    I want to just BE a blended family already. I want to just KNOW what my calling is. I especially just want to just fast forward through my child`s increasingly horrible stint in (pre) puberty. I needed this reminder of the incredible importance of our small day to day choices. If I dont embrace the incremental changes, I fail to lay the meaningful foundation on which I will build my blended family, achieve my life`s calling, and raise a happy healthy adult daughter.

    If I may be so bold…..I dare say that our small choices not only get us “there”, but dictate our destination. If I chose to ignore the monotonous daily right vs wrong choices, I may never achieve the knowledge and grace to identify which path was mine. I`ve spent many years walking in circles. Lack of decision making that would “stretch the edges of my love just a little further” have often kept love from lighting my path. Lately I`ve been stretching more; allowing me to see more light, and slowly shake off that chronic dizziness years of circle walking has left me with.

    Thank you for you insight, the inspiration to make the right choices, and as always for your love.

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