May nothing disturb you.
May nothing astonish you.
God does not go away.
can attain anything.
He who has God within,
does not lack anything.
God is enough!” [St. Theresa of Avila]
We have been engaged in Lent for a while now. The newness, the excitement of our dedication, the solemnity with which we approached each discipline, are waning. We are feeling dry. We find excuses–“I just don’t have time today,” or “I don’t think this is a meaningful practice after all.”
We see the long path still ahead. We are weary already.
Imagine how Jesus felt. Whether his 40-day trek in the desert, or his never-ending mission of radical openness. A friend pointed this out to me recently. Jesus was the Outsider, the one misunderstood by almost everyone, vilified by some, ignored utterly by others. How broad and endless must his desert have seemed to him.
St. Teresa informs us how to handle this difficult time. It is not very different from what we learn in Centering Prayer. Surrender, be patient, let nothing disturb you, either good or bad. It is all the same. God is within, fall into the heart. God is ever there.
I’ve received conflicting advice as to how to handle the dry times. My inclination is to become more intense and devoted to ritual. It is the doing, rather than the meaningfulness (for that is never there in times of dryness) that is key.
Others have advised that one strip away all but essential practice, clear the decks if you will.
Perhaps both are equally valid, one works one time, another, another.
What is essential I feel, is what Teresa suggests, let nothing disturb you. Lent is the time of introspection, reflection and quiet.
Her remark that “everything passes” is excellent advice. Everyone from Buddha to your neighborhood psychoanalysist would tell you that. It is the way of getting past our melancholia. We who have lived sufficient years know how very true this is. Our dryness too will pass.
Soon, we will begin to feel the stirring of the coming Easter, that which we have waited for. Until then, rest. For God is within.