Help for a Dry Spirit

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jun 17, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

I have hit a dry place in my spiritual life. A “desert time” my spiritual director used to call it. Part of it has to do with leaving my old parish, St. Andrews. I miss being part of a spiritual community. St. Andrews is a parish with a focus on the Gospel messages of social justice, so daily I felt as if I was living my faith. The parish is so full of warm, kind and energizing people, it would be hard not to feel spiritually invigorated after meetings and Mass. And yet, in the midst of all the happy activity, I had an almost contradictory feeling. I felt a creeping fatigue, dryness.

I grew up spending summers in Vermont. When I felt an urge to get away, I would go out in the pasture and follow the old cow paths up through the rocky outcroppings. Near the top was a grassy knoll with some trees nearby. I would lie down, hands alternately smoothing and gripping the grass, and watch the clouds above change shapes and move across the sky. The warm sun, the drone of insects, the waving grass would make me happily drowsy. I relaxed into a sensation of distance, but total physical awareness of everything around me. At the end of the day, heading home, I ran and leapt down the path with an ease and assurance I never would have attempted earlier in the day.

A lifetime later, the outdoors is where I still go to refresh my spirit. The time I most look forward to each week is walking on the beach with Lori. We hike to a semi-secluded spot near a jetty of rocks, a favorite hunting ground of cormorants and plovers. It has become our special spot to stop and rest. Plovers dart quickly after the receding tide to search for tidbits. Gulls contemplate the in-betweens. I smooth the sand with my hands and use a pebble or shell to draw spirals and other shapes. Perhaps it is some unconscious response to the boulders decorated with piled up rocks, and driftwood logs with arrangements of shells impaled on their branches.

I look across the bay to Gardiners Island, gather in distant images of sailboats, a fishing boat or two,pleasure craft on the way to somewhere; probably Plum Gut to fish. The sand is warm. I lay back and close my eyes. I touch her fingers to know she is there. My mind drifts away, and I am only aware of the faraway noise of the sea, gulls and distant chuck-chuck of boats as they motor near the shore. Even that sound becomes faint. The sun becomes red behind my eyelids. I abandon myself to the sun. All thought goes out of my mind. The sun burns down on me, but almost at the moment the blaze becomes too hot to stand, a cloud shades me or a breeze comes along to cool me off.

God burns away the unnecessary between us, and then God refreshes me.

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