Monday, November 26, 2007


Oh, Lord, you convict my soul with every turn of my life, ever twist, every stumble. It is like my room or kitchen sink. I clean it up, and then life gets away from me and I live in a spiritual trash pit. And then you send me something to remind me I am slacking in my duty, that I am letting slide the camino I have been called to.

So, this article that my brother had, it reminded me that the vocation of the laity is an evangelistic one. I'm supposed to go out into the world and spread the good news, to convert the pagans, heretics, and infidels with the love of Christ. I know this, but I have a much harder time doing it. I tend to sympathize so much with the emotional place people are in, even if that emotional place is rebellion against their Lord and Creator, that I have no good arguments to convince them with, despite knowing my theology forwards and backwards. Instead I see them so completely that I feel as if no argument will change a heart and mind in pain, but only the unadulterated love of God as he chooses to pour down upon them and their lonely souls.

That's not something I can give. I'm just a humble human.

But it is also a rationalization that gets me off the hook as far as my missionary calling. I certainly didn't examine that aspect of my vocation when I picked it, at least not fully, because it makes me sort of uncomfortable. Other people are more brilliant than me, other people know the right words, other people can convince thousands to repent of their sins and turn to God.
How could I ever do something like that? My words are weak, shallow things, my heart to tender to the hurt of others, and me reasons feel flimsy and unconvincing. Why do I believe? Why am I Christian?

Because I have met God and He told me loved me, and I chose to believe Him.
Atheists everywhere will roll their eyes at that reason. I cannot disbelieve in God because I have met Him, and yet when I describe how I've met Him, they see not miracle, not deep calling on deep, but only what they want to see—coincidence and delusion.

So why did I chose a lay vocation anyway? Should I be off in some monastery praying for these people instead and seeing mystical union with God? Can a lay person be a mystic anyway? Why should my weak and miserable life convince anyone that God is their Lord and Savior and wants to give them eternal life?

These are the reasons that make me cower and hide behind excuses like needing to put my own spiritual house in order before I can invite people to come visit. And yet, I'll never finish cleaning it if I don't know I'm getting any guests, now will I? So, perhaps that's all it is an excuse to hide behind and not move forward on the journey I am called to.

I have the desire still, deep within me to give God himself to others through my writing. It's not like God is asking me to stand on a street corner and preach the good news. It's not like he wants me to go to coffee shops and challenge those pagans, atheists, and heretics in philosophical discussion, which I stink at.

No, he's only challenging me to touch the non-believers through the written word, to bring his love to them hidden in parables, to make the flames of the Holy Spirit rise up within them when they read my stories.

So then, my soul, why do you shy away from it? Why then are you sorrowful and hide behind meaningless stories? Why do you fear to put faith into your work whether it works or not and see what happens?

I think I am reluctant because I want to reach those who do not believe, not simply entertain those who already believe. I want to call to the Presence within them, I want to awaken the God they have forgotten that sleeps in their souls, I want to challenge them to Love and Life. And I don't know how to do that.

There is no formula, no set of surefire steps for the conversion of souls this way. I know perhaps two authors who did such a thing, and with mixed results. Can I really do that which I long? Or ought I to take an apologetics course and go find some unbelievers? Whatever I do, I know what I need to NOT do. I need to not hide behind excuses that books based on faith are too "hard" or "sappy" to write. I need to not use my dirty spiritual laundry lying all over the floor as an excuse not to invite others to see my soul and why I believe as I do.

Perhaps I'll never be a very good evangelist, but that doesn't mean I can get out of it, when I've felt called to a lay vocation. It is time to set aside the doubt, yet again, to pick up the dirty spiritual laundry, yet again, and to start down this difficult journey, yet again, and trust that my Father will guide me.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Moving On

So much has happened these past couple months and my camino has changed directions. I wonder, am I up to the task of comforting those who are morning? Does my presence really offer them anything? Or would they be better left alone to cry and morn and face their sorrows by themselves?

I don't have much to give. I'm at low ebb. In one sense it's so peaceful here, despite all the moving. I'm away from everything that had pulled me into the depths of depression. And yet, I'm also far away from those who usually are my comfort and companions. Moving on is hard.

And, where is my Lord and God in the midst of this? I haven't held onto him. Instead I am adrift in a sea of boxes, car loads, and home repairs. And not very helpful with those at that. It is my better half who navitgates them with strength and who offers the best support to my grieving family. I need to find my rythm, my walking pace, and pull together the strands of my life to follow the One Thing necessary. I need to reach to find the mystical, the plan I fear doesn't exist for my life.

Help me, O Lord, for without you, I am nothing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


When in the midst of several heavy blows, I feel that I lost my footing; I lost my trust. I know rationally that God will lead me out of the blackness, but it feels so consuming, that I lose sight of it.

Change, whether good or bad seems to put my life out of kilter. I suppose I have to trust that I'll find my path again.

It reminds me of the Camino de Santiago. The yellow arrows that lead us onward sometimes disapear or are missed in the choas of cities or broken or lost in the wilds, and we find ourselves on unfamiliar ground, unsure of where we are going. It is at those time we must open a map and make our best guesses as to how to get back to the camino.

So it is now... I spread out my map, say a prayer, to find the way again, and look. "Lord, help me to find your way for me, my vocation, how to pray, mysticism and writing." I must find a way to slip the mass back into my schedual, meditation, reading, and times to write. Perhaps back to a night scedual? Perhaps keep to a morning one? Structure will help me through the tough changes.

But I shall find the way. The Camino is only lost when I give up.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Yesterday I had a rough day. Staying up late the night before compulsively rereading Harry Potter 6 didn't help. I was depressed, sluggish, down. I didn't pray, I didn't get anything of much done. Just a couple of crits.

My attachments were in my way. All this time and I am no better at detachment than I was in high school. I suppose it's because I haven't tried, haven't focused on it. My desire for worldly things is strong. Just because most of them of are positive worldly things, friendship, belonging, intellectual stimulation, imagination, human interaction, I tend to think they're okay. That wanting those things, them not being evil, won't hurt me.

But if I want them to much, it leaves me in a state of anxiety and desire. My mind and spirit aren't willing the one thing, but the many, and I am destroying myself as surely as if I am desiring not so good things. They are still "feel good" drugs, just ones under the guise of acceptable, normal, or natural.

I, and I alone, can make this journey. There is no one but God who can walk it with me. Not even my friends who are dead, although they can walk it further than those surrounding me in life.

Yet at the moment the loneliness of it seems oppressive. Is there not one mystic who can take this interior journey with me? Do I not have one interior friend?

Who can see my soul? Who can know the depth of my heart? Jesus is my interior friend, the only one who can make the journey with me. Yet, the human part of me feels lonely, longs for companionship, wants, desires, with real strength, a solid other half, a solid person who will fill the void within.

No solid person can fill the void. I know this. But yesterday it didn't help.

All day I suffered, and then I went to bed. My mind was a wild thing, an untamed animal. I knew, after Tuesday what was necessary. Meditation would give me sleep. Yet, rightly, it felt like surrender. Despite the fact my thoughts were circular, mostly destructive, and not entertaining, I wanted them. I wanted to think, to ponder. I like thinking. And I didn't want to give them up for a "boring" mantra. I didn't want the droning repetitiveness of prayer. I didn't want to surrender.

And yet, I was so lost, tortured enough, that I did. And I slept.

I never thought of my sleep problem as a spiritual problem before, but at this point, I think it is. Part of me is skeptical that prayer that puts one to sleep "counts" but the other part of me figures, whatever "works" works. Perhaps my sleep problem is spiritual. Perhaps, I do not sleep because in general I won't surrender to it.

Sleep is like death. You release your thoughts, your mental and physical activity. You let everything go so that it can be restored. You surrender what you are doing, what you want to do, what you just did, and go into a sweet oblivion. It is not so different from prayer.

So do I not sleep because I do not pray? Perhaps. Perhaps the first step to God is to pray myself to sleep and restore my body. Perhaps surrendering to nature I will learn to surrender to God.

Although it does show me how very far from heaven I stand.

And somehow, becoming a mystic by sleeping just doesn't sound right. But it seems to be the camino set before me. All I can do is walk, and see what the camino brings. All I can ever do, should ever do, is walk.

Ultraya! Animo! Viva la Camino! Santiago, here I come.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Meditation and Sleep

Each day brings a gift.

I didn't sleep last night, the sort of night where my mind goes wild, and drags the rest of me with it. Circling thought about nothing in particular. While they aren't unpleasant they do impede sleep. I finally got up at 3:55 AM, tired of it. I was dragging this morning, and nothing seemed important, least of all mysticism.

I thought to myself, how do those mystic manage anything when they're tired? I did a crit, went to mass, and was hardly awake for any of it, knowing the second I lay down I'd be wide awake again.

So I decided to meditate.

I don't have much luck with meditation. Perhaps procrastinating on the whole mystic bit can partially be blamed on that… I mean, that's what mystics do. Meditate, contemplate. All I could do was fall asleep. I struggled with it for an entire year of centering on sleep instead of God, before giving up. It was horrible frustrating. (Sorry Lord, couldn't keep awake with you an hour, but I did try.)

I had no problem with the idea today. If sleep was the worst that could happen, that was more than fine with me. I suppose our perspective changes with age. I figured if the best I could do was sleep with God for half an hour or so, that was just peachy with me. So I gave it my best shot.

I was not disappointed. Mantra became dream, my brain still didn't shut up, but I knew I was pretty much asleep, because I wasn't conscious of directing my mind for most of it. When I could, I returned my focus, but mostly I slept. Even the mundane and dull nature of the dreams failed to arouse and disappointment. 45 min of sleep meditation seems worth five and half hours of insomnia in bed.

One of those mysteries of the universe I guess.

I for one, think I'll be "meditating" a bit more often these days.

The Annunciation and Writing

A week ago exactly, down in the crypt at Mt. Angel Abby, during mass, I had a revelation. I think I was standing up to go to communion, when the icon of the Annunciation caught my eye, one of Brother Claude's work. Mary was stepping forward in it, her stance strong, and above her head a gold circle of light sent down a single beam towards, doing the work of the incarnation. Gabriel in front of her had his right hand lifted in a priestly blessing, a perfect mirror of how the priest blesses us with the sign of the cross.

And I knew then, as surely as I can know anything—that what I wanted was to be her. For me, the Annunciation became about writing. Mary bore the Word of God into the world, and I realized that was what I wanted. I want to give birth the Word of God, in the form of novels, so that He can touch the souls of the world and bring them to him. So that he can save them.
All I've wanted for a very long time is to bring at least one soul to God. Part of me felt that if I could save just one person, my life, and the cost of it, in both the blood of the Lamb, and the blood of my brother could be worth it. Silly of me, but I have desired that for a long time.
And here I was wanting to bring the Word of God to millions. But that is what vocation is about, is it not? Bringing Jesus to others? Do you think Mary would criticize my ambition to be her? Do you think the Father would?

I don't think so. Despite the bordering heretical edge to my desires, I know they are good. The part of me that knows, believes, can feel that God and Mary not only don't mind, but encourage me. If Father Jeremy can invite the Father and Son to quarrel over him, why cannot I desire to be Mary?

So, fired with loves urgent longing, I return to my vocation, and work yet again, to show Jesus to the world in my work.

Monday, July 16, 2007

This Journey

I've waited long enough.

The call to mysticism is no less a part of my vocation than the call to storytelling, or at least what I perceive as those calls. I hear darkly, impeded by my lack of connection to God, by my failings, by the world I live in. But I have known much longer that mysticism drew me than writing, and it's time I jumped.

The void looks rather black from this end. I'm afraid of death. I must die to myself before I can live, and yet the idea has always terrified me. I have postponed it too long. Avoided it. Rationalized it. Let the cares of the world step between me and my hearts desire.

Yet, the more I struggle with my writing vocation, the more I understand that the two are connected. How can I give what I do not have? How can I draw from depths I have not tapped? No, my writing shall remain superficial until I take the interior journey, until I brave the depths, and give myself over to God.

For too long has writing and prayer, authorship and sanctity, been made into a false dichotomy in my mind. The two go together, not against each other. Just because the mystics who write fiction are few, doesn't mean I can't be one of them.

And so, I am starting this pilgrimage, my inner camino, and to help myself stick to it, I am walking it in public, as all pilgrimages are, to hold myself accountable. I will struggle to think, to read, to pray, to meditate, and to go to mass. I will struggle to bring God into writing, into my life, into my mind and heart and soul. I will jump into the darkness, knowing that He could take it all from me, strip me of what I long for, but knowing that even if He should, the journey will be worth it.

I will lose myself, even if at the moment, the promise that afterwards I will find myself feels dim and insubstantial.