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Monday, October 19, 2015

distractions, monday

Monday, October 19

Opening Prayer: Father, you are full of compassion, I commit and commend myself unto you, in whom I am, and live, and know.  Be the goal of my pilgrimage, and my Rest by the way. Let my soul take refuge from the crowding turmoil of worldly thoughts beneath the shadow of your wings; let my heart, this sea of restless waves, find peace in you, O God.  Amen. (Little Book of Prayers by St. Augustine)

Scripture: Proverbs 3:1-18

Journal: What words from Proverbs 3 speak to something in your heart or life these days?  Where is God asking you to trust him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding?  What is your greatest distraction from being able to do that?

     Moods are worth my attention.  I am discovering during these first weeks in Genesee that I am subject to very different moods, often changing very quickly.  Feelings of depressive fatigue, of low self-esteem, of boredom, feelings also of anger, irritation, and direct hostility, and feelings of gratitude, joy, and excitement-they can all be there, sometimes even during one day.  I have the feeling that these quickly changing moods show how attached I really am to the things given me: a friendly gesture, pleasant work, a word of praise, a good book, etc.  Little things can quickly change sadness into joy, disgust into contentment, and anger into under-standing or compassion.
     Somewhere during these weeks I read that sadness is the result of attachment.  Detached people are not the easy victims of good or bad events in their surroundings and can experience a certain sense of equilibrium.  I have the feeling that this is an important realization for me.  When my manual work does not interest me, I become bored, then quickly irritated and sometimes even angry, telling myself that I am wasting my time.  When I read a book that fascinates me, I become so involved that time runs fast, people seem friendly, my stay here worthwhile, and everything one big happy event.
     Of course both “moods” are manifestations of false attachments and show how far I am from a healthy form of “indifference.”  Thinking about all of this, I guess my main problem still is that I have not really made prayer my priority.  Still the only reason that I am here—I mean the only reason I should be here—is to learn to pray.  But, in fact, much of what I am doing is motivated by many other concerns: getting back in shape, learning some skills, knowing more about birds and trees, getting to know interesting people, and picking up many ideas and experiences for future teaching.  But if prayer were my only concern, all these other things could be received as free gifts.  Now, however, I am obsessed by these desires which are false, not in themselves, but by their being in the wrong place in the hierarchy of values.  That, I guess, is the cause of my moodiness.  For the time being it seems so important to be at least aware of it. (The Genesee Diary by Henri J. M. Nouwen)


Closing Prayer: Lord, you know me better than I know myself.  Your Spirit pervades every moment of my life.  Thank you for the grace and love you shower on me.  Thank you for your constant, gentle invitation to let you into my life.  Forgive me for the times I have refused that invitation, and closed myself off from you.  Help me in the day to come, to recognize your presence in my life, to open myself to you, to let you work in me, to your greater glory. Amen. (The Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius)

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