After a sleepless night of second-guessing and doubt, I awoke with this nagging certainty that I’m not worthy to speak or write about our faith. A sense that God must have made a mistake when He called me to this task. Or maybe I just heard Him incorrectly.
It’s quiet now. As I sit here in the early morning, after reading out loud today’s lessons about St. Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, the furnace fan is running. But it’s still. The normal busyness of a Thursday morning in the neighborhood seems suspended for the moment. Almost as if God is holding His breath, waiting for me to recognize in the full light of day that the evil one was messing with me during the night. Sowing his foul seeds of doubt and fueling my sense of being unworthy, unprepared to venture forth as I have felt called to do.
[Editor Angel: In fewer words please. Just not good enough. What on earth was I thinking?]
But sure enough. There goes one of the little imps now, slinking off to the corner. He heard the readings, too. He knows. When Our Lord is near, he is banished again, to go find someone else to torment.
And of course, he’s right in a way. If I were only relying on my own resources, my own abilities, everything he whispered over and over in my ear throughout the night would likely be true enough.
But I’m not alone. I’m never alone. Even when I’m not fully conscious, the Holy Spirit is my constant companion. Satan’s minions are always “prowling about the world seeking the ruin of souls.” It’s during these drowsy times at night, though, when I’m most vulnerable to their deceit.
Sitting here this morning, I finally interrupted their dark litany of all the ways I might fail, all the reasons I would surely fail—all the reasons I deserved to fail. I prayed Our Lord’s Prayer. Then, I crossed myself in name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and the doubts and anxiety fell away.
And so it goes. I think doubt and anxiety are common to all of us, maybe especially so amongst us introspective writer-types. Probably need to get out more.
So, how’s it been with you, since last we met? Did you try to imagine a conversation with God?
I thought I would share an early imagining of my own. As it happens, my imagined conversation was all about my doubt and anxiety over a decade ago. God and I were planning to start a blog where I could share through my writing my nascent spiritual understandings, experiences, and encounters. Something for my children, maybe. Or whoever else God might lead to that place.
So, on this particular day, I was in my car on a solo day trip in search of just the right slab of granite for a kitchen counter.
Plumbing the depths of my creativity, I titled this blog entry, “Driving With God.”
“I’m glad you’re with me today, Father.”
I’m always with you, my dear. I’m glad you’re aware of me today.
“This imagining thing that Fr. Martin suggests — well, I guess it was St. Ignatius who earlier suggested it for understanding more about Christ — this isn’t something I know much about, Father. It feels so presumptuous to imagine You here with me. Can we just be quiet here together for a while?”
I know. There’s not any need to talk. We can just drive together.
A few minutes later.
“I have a question, Father.”
“I don’t know when or if to go public with the blog I’m working on for us, Walking With My Brother. I don’t want to put it out there, if it is not what you want from me. Or if You believe I’m/we’re not ready. Or, if somehow I might do something wrong or say something that might mislead another person.
“What should I do, Father? And when?”
Do you believe that I led you to the writing that you’ve been doing?
Do you believe that I use things and people to my own purpose? And is my purpose good?
“Yes...and, of course!”
What is your fear? Are you concerned about what I might do with your work, who I might bring to your blog, or are you concerned about whether something you say might be wrong or weakly reasoned or uninspired?
How much of what you’re feeling is ego?
“Okay...I think I get where You’re going. You’re in control.
“But …[Editor Angel: REALLY? What on earth are you doing, arguing, questioning God? Shhh, I’m new at this. He understands!]
“... but what if I start the blog and then my work schedule gets in the way? What if I don’t maintain the blog, and, as is true for so many others, what if it just falls by the wayside and withers?”
“So, you’re suggesting that if I continue to follow Your lead, either outcome is…well…if not worthy, then at least redeemable...something?
“Or, that You can still work with stuff, even incomplete stuff, if You choose? That what I learn about myself and about my relationship with You may be as important as what I lead others to learn about You?
"And that in the end, it’s all up to You anyway?
[Observation from a decade later: Do you hear the call from Our Father for me to exercise greater trust, obedience and humility? I’m still working on this. But the really good news is, so is He!]
A little later:
“I love you so very much, Father.”
I love you, too.
A bit later yet:
“WOW! How do You DO that?
“The sun shining through the mist, the snow-capped mountains, the fog lying along the valley floor. And the colors today are iridescent! What a day You have made for our drive! Thank you, Father!”
It’s one of my favorite things to do. I’m glad you’re enjoying it.
And again later:
“Father, do You feel sadness or remorse for the world. Are You concerned about the state our world is in? How does that work for You? It seems like You, as awesome God, would be, should be kind of above it all...unaffected by all the sin and greed and deceit and hatred that exists in our world. And yet, You love us all and care for us. How does that work?”
I don’t so much feel those things, as I understand them. I was there. I lived among you. I felt the things you’re feeling... your human emotions – love, anger, joy, sadness, remorse.
I know how your pain feels. I try to help you use the pain you’re experiencing to strengthen you and help you turn to me.
I rejoice with you whenever you take even the smallest step toward me.
“Don’t You ever tire of all my whiney doubts and questions? How am I possibly worthy of Your presence here in the car with me, talking to me and painting beautiful scenes for us to experience as we drive along?”
I’m always here ready to talk and to listen, painting beautiful vistas. I’m always present with you.
It’s nice to have you here present with me. We should do this more often.
I don’t know about you, but this last bit still makes me laugh out loud. I hear Our Father’s voice speaking in a droll, but loving tone. I imagine His eyes twinkling, His mouth turned up slightly at the corner in just a hint of a smirk, maybe one raised eyebrow, as He delivers His understated longing for me (and for each of us) to take a little time out of my day to spend with Him.
And then another voice chimed in from somewhere — my mother, maybe — punctuating His point, “He just wants a few minutes. Is it so much to ask?”
I’ll leave you with the image above of a blossom from one of my trees. It’s become for me one of God’s early signs of the renewed life and hope of Spring time.
This is lovely. Thank you for posting.