Those Little Promptings
It is said that C.G. Jung used to ask his clients what they were doing one hour before they came to see him. Like him, there are those who believe that if we examine one small fragment of our day, it pretty much demonstrates how we approach life in general. We could say that the dynamic of any event also reveals how uniquely God works within us. Somewhat related to this is what spiritual writers used to call actual grace, those little God-given promptings within to do this or that. We find ourselves saying, “It just came to me out of nowhere.”
There is a story told of a young fellow who chose to work among God’s poor. One day, with duffle bag in hand, he hurriedly mounted a bus, that evidently had windows one could open. As he seated himself and caught his breath, he looked out the window only to see one of his shoes lying on the ground. Because of time and circumstance, there was no way he could retrieve it. With that, he opened his duffle bag, took out the other shoe and tossed it out the window, landing it next to its partner. That way, the finder would have a pair of shoes. It would appear that this one incident says much about this fellow’s approach to life in general. Obviously he had little time to reflect, and with that, acted spontaneously.
Returning to the concept of actual grace, there certainly are times when, after much effort and searching, we find that we do not know what course to follow since there seems to be no obvious prompting present. Thomas Merton suggests that, when this happens, it is good to pause, wait in surrender, do nothing and allow intuition to act within us. At such times, dynamics from a bigger picture may enter in to help us and to give us clarity on the situation. At other times, the prompting may come in the guise of restlessness. Not intending to found anything new, it was restlessness that moved St. Teresa of Avila to found a new expression of Carmel, based on her own personal experience of God.
Sometimes, we may feel called to take no action at all, to let things take care of themselves and to leave everything in the hands of God. This is also a grace. Truly, one can only surmise that such a contemplative love offering of trust and surrender must be very beautiful in the eyes of God and something that, in some way, benefits the world.
Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.