On our Sabbatical one of the things that Kristi and I prayed about was our longing for God. What we desire will ultimately tell the story of our life.
When we visited the Big Sur Hermitage, a Christian monastery, I read a note from Brother Cassian that got my attention. He said that the reason he became a monk was because of his deep longing for God. His note directed me to a story at the end of a little book titled Heaven Begins Within You by Anselm Gruen. One of the Desert Fathers says we need to long for God like a hungry dog in a pack of dogs hunting for a hare in the wilderness. You may have seen a chase scene like this in a movie.
“In the hunt one dog sees the rabbit and starts chasing after him and then all the other dogs join in. The pack of hounds hasn’t seen the hare — they’re chasing the lead dog and so eventually they’ll give up. They’ll get discouraged by forests, ravines, thickets of thorns, or wounds and turn back. Only the first dog who actually saw the rabbit will keep chasing until he’s caught the rabbit. He will not give up until he’s seized it and satisfied his hunger.
“Why does the first dog keep chasing? Because seeing the rabbit put the taste of it in his mouth.”
What Are We Chasing?
Am I longing for God like that? Am I that spiritually hungry to taste the sweet love and beauty of the Lord?
The truth is that often we’re not earnestly seeking God. We’re chasing someone’s attention. Or success. Or to be recognized as knowledgable. Or to be entertained.
Or maybe we’re just trying to get through the day.
Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish monk from the 16th Century and the founder of the Jesuits, would say that these are unhealthy attachments and we’ve gotten distracted from our life purpose which is to love and serve God our Lord. He says that in daily life we ought to desire and choose only the things and activities that help us in the pursuit of this end. (This is “The Principle and Foundation” of The Spiritual Exercises.)
So when I arise in the morning I sing a Psalm to the Lord. While I transition from one activity to another I pray. As I hug my wife I hug Jesus. As I respond to emails I rely on the Spirit of Jesus. When I get bad news I immediately cry out to the Lord. When I listen to people I let the light of Christ shine through my eyes.
If I’m personally attached to God then I don’t try to make anything happen. I don’t worry about pleasing people. I don’t hurry. In all that I do I simply want to enjoy being in the Lord’s presence and serving him.
Of course, I’m often diverted, but I don’t give up the chase. The taste of God is in my mouth and I’m hungry for more!
Try this delightful prayer of reflection that Kristi and I have been doing — it’s Ignatius’ “Examen of Consciousness.”