Drawing Nearer/Joy

Dandelion Cottage (my office)

There has been a season of writing in my journal– pencil to page; mind to hand. I notice, however, that I swing back and forth between digital and tactile.

I am somewhat reluctant to return to dictating in this space. On the other hand, I feel the need for a change. I have had a sense of malaise lately. I wonder if it has to do with our recent bout with COVID, but it could be the usual cycle –“the law of undulation” that CS Lewis talks about in the Screwtape Letters.  I have become aware of the familiar sense of distance from the Lord.

It happens.

I want to return to a more vibrant prayer life. Part of this transition back is my return to the examen prayer of St. Ignatius. I had gotten out of the habit. As I return to it this morning I remember that speaking my thoughts had been a part of that practice. Therefore, here I am.

As I reached the place of gratitude in the prayer, I found myself being thankful for living where we live. I have fond thoughts of our home on 78th — how familiar I was with every square foot of that 50 by 100 ft. lot and the modest castle that was built there. The memories were fond, yes, but I would not return because I am thankful for being where I am with the country surrounding me and the animals – – the dogs, ducks, horses, and even the chickens. I am thankful for these things.

Along with a sense of distance that I have felt from the Lord, there has been a recurrent thought about the second in the list of the fruits of the spirit: Joy. “The fruit of the spirit is love, Joy…” Moreover, it is occurred to me that Joy is a significant part of our inheritance. Jesus said that he wanted our joy, his Joy, to fill us up. So, what should that look like? It is a question that has returned to me time and again. There are words that, it seems to me, ought to be packed together with the idea of joy. Happiness is one; laughter seems like it ought to be included. Fun. Play. Satisfaction. Thankfulness and peace. Wait a moment… That’s the third fruit of the spirit: peace. I ponder that. Love joy and peace are a triad. The qualities that follow are no less important, but perhaps these first three–love, joy, peace–are foundational.

I take a deep breath. I feel a welcome sense of focus this morning. Perhaps, the sense of distance and disconnectedness has invited a contrast.

As I continue to pray, I meet the part of the prayer called resolution. This is the one I have a hard time with. To resolve to do something is not difficult. I can think of something I ought to do. The challenge is that I often don’t do it. That’s not much of a resolution, is it?