August 14,2022 Luke 12:49-53
“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already burning!”
My spiritual life feels like it’s ablaze and not in a good way. It looks like my front yard- drooping hydrangeas, crunchy grass, singed hostas. The only hopeful spot is my black eyed susans; they are defying heat and sunshine and somehow thriving.
All it took were three trips this summer to land me in this space. Suddenly my daily walks didn’t happen. My morning prayer time and evening meditation-forgotten. I could have continued walking and praying but I let it all slide. Sure I said a quick good morning, thank you, and good night to God each day but I was lazy, and having fun. I kept thinking that once I returned to Nashville I would return to walking and meditating. It’s a lot harder to get back into a routine once you leave it.
A couple years ago I decided to return to swimming. At my best I would swim a mile with ease. On my return to the pool I thought I would start with a slow mile. The last time I had swam a mile was eight years ago. I entered the pool and swam 2 laps before I started gasping for air. My muscles were tight, my body wasn’t moving the way it was supposed to, and my breathing was off.
When I returned home and told Jeff what happened he asked,”Did you really think you could just jump in and swim that distance?!”
“Well, sort of,” I sheepishly replied.
I guess I don’t learn very quickly. Here I am again, and I’m surprised that walking two miles at my original pace doesn’t just happen immediately. And meditating now lasts 30 seconds before I’m thinking about everything. I’m also feeling guilty that I left an ongoing conversation with God that I had built up over the past two years. Sure, God welcomes me back but it’s a little hard to believe that with my human brain. God must be annoyed that I haven’t been keeping in touch. It’s as if I was talking to my next door neighbor every day and then with no explanation I switched to speeding by in my car and waving, but now I want to return to our daily conversation. Who wouldn’t be a little peeved by my return?
I’m trying to think of my charred spiritual life as an invitation. While Jesus came to set the earth on fire presumably nothing lasts forever and sometimes a low intensity fire can improve the soil. Part of that invitation is to recognize my own smugness about my spiritual practice. I thought I kind of had it together, but throw in a few late night dinners, cross several time zones and that practice turned to ash.
Another part of the invitation is to reexamine my spiritual habits, keep what is working and make room for something new. For now I have returned to walking which is exercise, but also a way to spend time with God. Maybe I’ll return to the Pray As You Go app and meditating. I’m considering some other practices or creating my own. Maybe reading poetry prior to meditating, or even a return to the pool. This time for a few laps, not a mile.