Like me, do you ever find yourself in a spiritual desert? Those times when my prayers seem empty and perfunctory, it feels as if I’m just going through the motions. And maybe I am. So I pray: God, please help me!
During those times I will attend Mass and sing and pray along and listen to The Word but I might as well be driving through the Automatic Car Wash. My experience is completely passive and it barely registers on my psyche. It almost feels as if I’m watching someone else – it’s not worship; it’s not prayer; it’s just sort of dutiful religious regurgitation. Not exactly inspiring!
But sometimes maybe just BEING THERE is enough. Maybe just being in the presence of others that are truly engaged spiritually has its own grace. Perhaps being part of a community of believers means that sometimes we carry one another along the journey. Possibly the prayers and singing of the ‘inspired ones’ can lift me up before God when I can barely pull myself into the pew.
I sure hope so. Because lately these desert experiences have been coming along more frequently and lasting much longer. I sometimes fear that this life on earth may make me lose out on eternal life. Too many times I approach the altar angry or hurt and can’t (or won’t) let go of my outrage. Too often I have judged others as hypocrites. And I it find more and more difficult to forgive and yet I expect complete forgiveness for my own shortcomings.
So I trudge along; hoping that maybe just by being at Mass and participating, however vacuous, I might find some grace and be touched by the Holy Spirit. Witnessing my family’s worship, during these empty times, I wonder why I can’t feel God’s presence as they do. Sometimes when my spirituality feels particularly bankrupt I find comfort in just holding my granddaughter in church. She is certainly closer to God and just that simple act brings me a measure of peace (God’s peace?).
Some days my prayer is just this: God, please help me! And there are times when that’s all I’ve got…