Notes from Manresa, prt. 7
7:18 pm. I think starting on my second day here, I started learning how to live here and not just to write about living here. Isn’t that what the struggle is all about? Learning how to not just write about, teach about, or talk about prayer, but to actually pray? I have found myself today beset by various distractions, but welcome to the real world. They will present themselves in legions every day and the opportunity in there is to somehow keep praying.
In my prayer hour before dinner, I found myself moving from wanting God’s assurance that I am loved, to naming and listing all the ways God has in fact loved me all my life. Of course I can choose not to see them, or not to acknowledge God is behind them, but if I choose either of those paths I need to seriously reconsider exactly why I am a theist in the first place. On the list:
Christian parents who took me to church, where a spark was fanned into a flame
Good friends who loved me dearly, despite my incapacity to see it, even in them (it’s not just God from who I have not felt love), and my continual desire for it to come in some idealized form that does not actually exist anywhere on this planet
A brother who, though I despised him when we were young, would become my closest friend and confidante
A dynamic friend who came into my life named Christy. My best friend became my wife.
A fantastic education that made me into a certain kind of person and trained me to see clearly into others, even if I have been unable to see into myself with any clarity at all
A job in the ministry where I found my calling and began to develop the speaking and writing gifts God gave me
Three beautiful daughters who have taught me more about love and grace than I could ever otherwise know. Our connection and relationship could easily be a source of pain and chaos, but it is instead a constant source of love, happiness, and meaning.
A sharp mind that I am able to use to serve others
Shall we leave it at that and simply say, “Etcetera”?
I have lived most of my life surrounded by love and blessings and yet have been largely unable to appreciate that I am loved and blessed. But in many ways I live a dream life and have more than I would have ever thought to ask for, had God been taking orders, when I was 12. (The Christian understanding of this is that God “is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could ask or even imagine”). I look at all this and my mouth drops open, and I gasp, “God! Look at me! I’m living the dream!” To which God seems to reply, “You certainly are. Now whose dream do you think it was in the first place?” If this was God’s dream for me, then it was a good dream, and God dreamed it because he is good.
And that’s what I have already learned at Manresa. Not only that I live a blessed life, but that I live a blessed life because someone has blessed it. This someone, we call God. And he loves me.