Struggle and Grace

Even when I know what to do, I don’t. Yesterday was one of those days. I began the day with good intentions and somehow lost my way. Struggle and grace are recursively lived.

I used to get up in the morning and pray more overtly than I read or wrote. My oldest journals are merely dates, a record of scripture and occasionally a quote of something I was reading.

I used to pray in the presence of the almost perfect oak tree in my backyard (a few houses ago) or walking in the sparkling newness of the snow or noticing the sunset in the park. I was prayerful walking to work when I lived in Indiana, both when the purple crocus peeked through a mass of dead leaves in the spring and when the blazing fall color surrounded the same path.

Now I watch the sun come up through the massive tree in my front yard, occasionally sitting on the porch swing, appreciating the massiveness of the life of that tree and the Holston Mountain range that is visible beyond. Walking from the oval on the King University campus to my office in Kline Hall takes my breath away in any kind of day or season. Those are prayers that lift me up out of myself to see the goodness and majesty of God, to know the blessedness of living in this beautiful world, to feel the propitious presence of something greater than myself.

So what about today? Yesterday I missed that awe. Instead, I buried myself inside myself, knowing what I was missing. I paid more attention to the worlds’ gossip and trouble. I was concerned with how I measured up and lamented how I failed to be the person I somehow think I should be, all the while doing nothing to change the narrative.

To realize that God in the Holy Spirit is abundantly present even in those times is one I believe St. Ignatius was calling me to through his prayerful reflection, Daily Examen. In those moments when the way I am thinking or behaving does not match the way I want to be thinking or behaving—when I am stuck inside of myself—that is also a place of prayer.

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