An Uncomfortable Chair

Mental prayer is a big part of Capuchin life. It's an important time for me to spent time with God in a manner that best fits me. Sometimes I pray the rosary or other devotions, sometimes I sit in silence and try to be open to what the Spirit is telling me. Sometimes I write and end up posting the composite here online. Regardless of how I pray, the time is always beneficial and is usually focused on good thoughts and ideas for the future.

Sometimes, however, those thoughts are shadowed by others...making mental prayer a disturbing or even torturous time.

Sometimes my mind is filled with the other desires and longings that many others have.
  • I desire to be passionate and intimate as a lover.
  • I desire to be nurturing and loving as a parent.
  • I desire to be powerful and secure as a provider.
  • And I desire to be free and without responsibility like someone who is their own master.
All of these are very human desires, and in spite of what people my believe, choosing a vowed life as I have doesn't mean that those thoughts or desires go away. And depending on your point of view, I've had the benefit/burden of experiencing these feelings before joining the Capuchins.

So this morning during morning prayer, as I tried to be at peace, I played the "What If?" game. What if my situation was different? What if I was still in a relationship? What would it be like if I were raising a child?

In the midst of all this, I heard a voice in the back of my head tell me: "That's a pretty uncomfortable chair, isn't it?"

Learning to live the vows of religious life is never over...even after formation. I remember Fr. Michael Crosby telling me in a sit-down: "Everyday I actively choose to live this life." In a way, it's good to know that I won't change because of the life I've chosen or the path I've taken, even though I've changed from who I was before.

But on mornings like this, I if it gets any easier.

In Ronold Rolheiser's book The Holy Longing, he paraphrases Socrates in saying:
"We are fired into life with a madness that comes from the gods and which would have us believe that we can have a great love, perpetuate our own seed, and contemplate the Divine."
I'm glad that I have the fire to love and to be present to others, but learning how to channel that energy and "unquenchable fire" (as Rolheiser puts it) is still a work in progress.

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