Here is a post that I contributed to Pious Posers, another blog I write for.. from the other day.
I’ve been formulating this post for a while, probably months really. Over and over in my head, turning it around, looking at it, wondering again and again how exactly I can explain this – what ever this is that I am experiencing. I wonder so many things… am I normal? Am I being punished? Am I being tested, refined? Am I over thinking my life, my choices, my priorities? Even I wonder what you (the readers) will think of me and where I am in my faith journey once I share this.
I suppose that I am on a odyssey- in which I am searching for truth. I mean isn’t that what life is all about? The big questions? The point, the meaning of it all? It’s hard as a young christian woman to navigate this world, as often I reeeeally struggle to fit in. I am not married, I have teenaged children, I work full time in ministry, and I have an affinity for extreme sports. I think and I say this based on my personal experiences, that those rather defining things make me – in general hard for people my age to relate too.
So I am single (which leads me into many activites, that are flighty, fun, unplanned and unstructured). That in itself is good. I am a “part time” parent.. which translates – half the week I am in full Mom mode the other half I am forced to step back and trust that my kids are alright. That in itself, not good – but necessary. I work full time in Youth Ministry – which means I live and breathe youth culture, tradition, liturgy and the love of a non transparent (in most cases) God, relationally. What does it look like to navigate the world as one of todays pressured youth? It’s what I spend my days trying to find out & lastly – my love of adventure. I systymaticly take time every single day to do at least one thing that will challnge me, push me and make my blood sing! And this friends – is the culmination of my prayer life these days. Strange, yes but well – we’ll get to that.
Running on empty. That’s not a metaphorical title. It’s the truth for me lately.
I have been feeling spiritually lost.
Good ol Catholic guilt has perpetuated this I am sure – I am struggling extremely hard to pray in formulated ways, Liturgy of the Hours which in the past, I loved… Rosary (it’s May for cryng out loud) or the other various devotions that I have so thoughtfully loved for much of my adult life have somehow become discombobulated. I don’t have the desire anymore & I most certainly don’t have the discipline.
I feel so incredibly guilty that I am not on my knees dutifully praying throughout the day.
Can you relate to that?
Over the last year my life has been subtly transitioning from what it has always been to what it is now. I’ve heard that people through their thirty’s experience a huge shift in thinking; maturity and wisdom drive you to be more reflective and less emotional.
So with that I have found I am doing less and less of the things that I don’t truly want to do and more of what lifts my spirit. LIke total body & spirit working in unity.
I run. I am a runner I guess you can say. It’s part of my daily life. I run trails mostly. I run deep into the woods and it’s only in there that lately I can really, truly, pray. I seek consolation in the blanketed quiet of nature. I see the majesty of God so easily there, under the bows of a cedar, as the waves crash and roar, while sitting on the ledge of a cliff over looking a rushing winding river, I feel Him to my very, very core when I am in that quiet place inside my head. It’s an emptying. It’s freeing to let go of all the ‘stuff” that clouds and occupies my mind. I find that I pattern my steps on the mossy earth to fit perfectly in tune with the beating of my heart… Like how ‘zen’ is that??!
It’s so peaceful.
It’s then that I understand that miraculous miracle that is the gift of my faith. Well understand as much as one can. With out a doubt I know God is with me. I leave everything in His loving hands and just go. My body gets tired and at times I reason that going on is impossible.. yet it’s then that I am truly running on empty. This is me praying. This emptying is my prayer.
I think this is how/when running becomes spiritual for me. I am actively praying with my whole body. I am listening. I am open, I am present and I am intentionally emptying self.
I am not an expert by any stretch, but this is what I would say to describe prayer to someone else. Actively listening, being open, being present, being intentional about all of it.
I have been pondering lately, if I can pray that way, with the universe, through the physical experience that I achieve while running, why then go to church at all? It seems like I am balanced enough. I talk to God, there is no pressure to fit in and honestly it feels lately like I am being abundantly blessed. So why do I need to go to church, me and God are all good? Right?
(well besides the obvious thing, you know the precept of Sunday Liturgy and the whole mortal sin business..) Haha
I had to recognize something that is an absolute truth.
I am catholic because I believe in the real presence of Christ.
I believe in the Eucharist and there isn’t any other place on the planet that I can experience Christ in the flesh other than in that divine moment when the good priest preciously places him on my unworthy tongue.
I think I have established that I believe in the presence of God in creation, well I have also experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in worship gatherings, retreats, other faith services, camps, whatever – I fully believe when the christian brotherhood gathers in Gods name, the power of the holy spirit resides with them – BUT I am Catholic because it is in my church that Jesus dwells.
I dont know where this road is going, all I know is spiritually I am in a new place. I think that’s the point of this whole post, I am in a new place and that’s okay. Like everything else in our humanity, faith is part of a process of evolution and we the practitioners are faulty. I am going to make mistakes for sure. I am probably going to make more than a few but I think grace is bigger than all that. God loves me. Imperfect, struggling, adventure loving, single parenting, trail running… me. He loves me exactly. where. I. am.
So to conclude although I am maybe not being as ‘pious’ as I once was, my life isn’t as lost as I thought. I am on a new and different spiritual path. It’s good.
Where are you today Posers? Can you relate to this change in faith practice? Is this something any of you have experienced? I would love some feed back!
Keep the Faith,