Finding New Fire And Following One's Bliss
by Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.
Did God ever intend prayer to be dry or daily life to be without zest? Usually, these two aspects of our lives run parallel, since in reality they are actually one.
Formerly, one of our major universities had a most fascinating policy. If the students walked on the grass, they were automatically restricted to campus. The explanation was intriguing. Whenever a new building was erected, there were no sidewalks laid until natural paths were worn by the walkers. After that, the students were expected to use the sidewalks.
From time to time, this event has prompted me to ponder the different aspects of the valid paths that a person takes, or makes, in life. For example, what happens when a person wakes up one morning and realizes that the inner path one is on no longer holds the excitement and fire it once did? The challenge is in finding a new fire. How does one go about it, and what is the purpose behind the oftentimes painful search?
I once had an acquaintance, who loved to dance, and who was very skilled at the art. One day, while addressing an audience on a completely different topic, she began her presentation with, "I would rather be dancing." When the fire goes out, perhaps it would be a good technique to begin a sentence with, " I would rather be..." and see how the sentence ends. John of the Cross points out that in order to get to a place where we are not, we need to go by a different path.
Usually, the fire that is meant for us is connected with a certain unique cause. It was the thinking of the ancient writers that if we can find a cause, all the different fragmented parts of our lives come together and rally around the cause. The cause, which hopefully is God-given, helps refine our identity, and, in its own way, brings us to a personal holiness of life. It would appear that this is how God gets things done on earth, since the pursuing of a worthy cause not only helps the individual but others as well. It is helpful to ask ourselves the question, "What is the cause that attracts me at this moment?" Many times, God's way for us is revealed through the attractions of our heart.
It would seem that underneath all our desires and attractions, there is a unique Way of Life meant for each one of us. This Way, another gift of God, always and everywhere calls us to fidelity and creativity. To find a new fire, we may be called to leave the path, but never the Way. John of the Cross tells us that it is not enough simply to desire the things of God. We must actively seek God. Seeking, too, is a type of prayer.
We End Up In A New Place
To search for new fire is purifying. This purification readies us to receive the fire when it actually comes. Since we are not able to make our own fire, when the fire does come, we know that it must be from God. Then too, when we find the new fire, all that we struggled with along the way either appropriately falls away formed, ready to be a source of strength and joy for us. We end up in a new place, nearer to God and nearer to ourselves.
Another helpful tool used in searching is to go window shopping, or to take a spiritual walk in our minds, in an attitude of prayer, to see what chooses us. No matter what happens, let us enjoy the venture, God is with us in the seeking, since it was God who gave us the certain divine restlessness in the first place. Providence, Who is in our day and night, spring, summer, fall and winter, and all the seasons of the heart, quickly tells us, "You may doubt that the stars are made of fire or that the earth moves around the sun, but never doubt that I am with you."
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