We believers hold a very strong conviction that God wishes to communicate with us. God wishes us to hear how much we are loved, what a good and treasured creation we are, AND to direct us to what will bring us “life to the full.” How does God speak these beautiful truths to us and guide us in “all of our ways,” as Psalm 37 promises?

St. Ignatius tells us that God speaks to us through all that God has created in us – in all our “inner workings” so to speak. God created us specifically to hear and receive this divine encouragement and guidance like a radio is built to receive air waves. Everything within us is designed to sense and hear God in our lives – our will, our memory, our imagination, our intellect, our heart, our desires. St. Ignatius says that if we quiet ourselves and listen to our deepest, most fervent desires, THIS is where God speaks most clearly to us. These are the pathways of communication that God has created in us so that we might hear and draw nearer to our loving creator. This nearness, accessed by quiet prayer, is what allows us to choose with unshakable trust and confidence to do the good that brings us joy and to grow and live into our original intended goodness as God has created us to be and become.

As Lent approaches, I’m reminded of Dr. Phil’s famous question “So, how is that working for you?” Are we regularly listening for God and receiving “life to the full” that God wishes to give? Do we spend the lion’s share of our time and energy doing the things that Jesus would have us do? If not, why not?

On my better days, I’m a hopeful gal. I truly believe – barring mental illness or deep, untended brokenness – that most, if not ALL people seriously and sincerely intend to DO and BE good; that each of us deeply desires to help bring into reality all that God dreams for our world. Don’t we ALL wish for the hungry to be nourished? For those who are cold from nakedness to find warmth and shelter? For those who are lonely or sick to secure the loving care that they need? And in our heart of hearts, don’t we ALL wish to BE the instruments that help deliver this undeniable goodness? And yet, by and large, this is not how we spend our time and energy. Why? Couldn’t we all ask ourselves like St. Paul does in his letter to the Romans “Why do I not do the good I want to do? I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”

Are we self-absorbed, ignorant and/or callous? Perhaps. Or, maybe, as my teenager would say “It’s not that deep.” Perhaps the current pace of our lives is simply not conducive to living out what Jesus sets before us as essential – what we were designed for – not only as individuals, but as a collective – as a society. Maybe we are simply busy about the wrong things. Doesn’t the tidal wave force and frenetic pace of our culture seem to be impossible to temper, even though we recognize how stifling it is to our spiritual lives and how it is deadening our ability to hear God and experience joy?

We cry out, but “the dishes must be done, the dirty laundry reproduces on its own in the basement overnight, the kids need to be taxied to endless destinations, bills need to be paid, we are out of milk and bread, the garage needs to be cleaned (again)…our unrealistic to-do list is never ending,” right?

Do we feel we are genuinely living the life for which we were designed? Or do we feel frozen, stuck, unable to shift, move and find the time to move in the direction that we are being called? Are we, perhaps, experiencing a systems error because we are not following the manufactures operating instructions? If so, what are we to do? This is a question I hope to explore with you this Lenten season…more next week!

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