Maintenance


Every day you met people from all over the world in a quest, along the path of St. James, at el Camino de Santiago de Compostela.  In A Vanished World, Chris Lowney questions as he travels across Spain why three religions that worship the same God and deeply respect human dignity have so often turned on each other.  It was on my books to acquire list. 

What is spiritual direction? I had read an article about this pilgrimage in Spain. In any life, we all had a spiritual direction, though few talk about it. Maybe that was why people went on pilgrimage. Mostly, alone. To find a direction. It is said that God is constantly making approaches to our defenses.

It was a bad week for books, in a bad year for sales in bookstores.  People were not buying newspapers or books.  Me either.  I probably owned 100 great ones that were still waiting for me to get to.  A library says a lot about a person, speaking of spiritual direction.

My sister was back from Israel and Egypt. She reports that “the burning bush” is still in Egypt.  Yup, Moses’.  I saw the pictures. I could not believe it was still in Egypt. She reports that the Catholics have possession of the bush — Coptic Catholics, I think.  It could not be transplanted, though it had been tried — over and over.  I missed the subtleness of those who had tried to transplant it.  Because Jews never had been much welcomed much in Egypt since the time of slavery, and of Moses?   But the place of revelation to Moses, why Y*w*h’s name is spelled as it is in Judaic tradition, all started at the burning bush.  Speaking of spiritual direction? 

My sister was back from Israel and Egypt, where she had been assaulted in the night, by bed bugs.  Apparently bed bugs are an old problem that Minnesotans are awakening to after about 100 year period of dormancy.  I did not read the article in the Star Tribune last Sunday as to where they having been sleeping in the interim.   My friend the exterminator just took out $160,000 loan to store his company equipment, and those bed bugs will be helping him make payment.  God is constantly making approaches to our defenses, as my favorite Jesuit in Omaha wrote this week.  My sister kept any bedbugs that returned with her in her suitcase in sub freezing temperatures for a week, expecting that would kill her new Egyptian plague.  The quality of life is often determined by temperature.  In Canada, in Minnesota, in exodus, those temperatures can protect us in ways I never had contemplated — as an invisible weapon.

Speaking of spiritual direction — moving forward … expanding — why would economies expand in parts of the world with diminishing populations?  Is there irony that people in Western Europe quit having children for economic reasons.  Like in Spain.  People who dreamed of population control, to have more material wealth, end up shooting the next generation in the foot. Whether in riches, in markets of Wall Street, there is a mystery in all of this direction.  Wall Street was fighting the invisible spirit of the market.  It is said that the ticker does not lie.  There is something holy about the market. 

Maintenance.  It was the week I had snow tires put on.  If I wanted movement and traction this winter.  This meant walking through downtown after dropping off my car.  As I passed a lady with a seeing-eye dog, I thought of the training that went into that dog leading the blind.  When that dog woke, up, it really had a purpose in the morning.  The formation and training of that dog was not that much different than the effort put into a kid like me, I thought, as I walked by the corporation that had first hired me out of college, gave me training, and then sent me in exodus.

What is spiritual direction?  In the real world where people have to eat each day, who has time?  In the real world when people have to work.  Or get their snow tires on. 

It was another Advent season.  Why?  Why in the Christian world is there another season of Advent.  In a world of commercial celebration of the birth of Christ, in the world before Christmas Day, was not a part of the world saying, “Forget the waiting”?  Put up the tree now.  Go to the parties now.  Turn on the house lights for the neighbors now.  Why would anyone wait?  So was there still an Advent?

What was the dynamics of spiritual direction?  Of this redemption?  Did Jesus of Nazareth have to find out the subtleness of God for himself?  The kid lost in the temple at 12, ready to engage the elders.  Why did this redemption have to wait?  Why did it have to wait 10 million years from the time of creation?  And who could wait?  Who could look at the hunger in the world?  The refugees from war?  The refugees from unemployment?  The immigrant moving in a direction, in exodus?  The descendants of all the transplanted here. Who could look at the news stories each day of a world in tough times?  Did it seem like a time for action?  Now? 

Spiritual direction.  From age to age.  In your kids.  It was just so slow to watch develop.  Painfully slow. A lot like this creation.  Or a lot like making a pilgrimage.  Or like that burning bush.. the burning bush which is real.

Speaking of spiritual direction, there was African proverb about a journey:  If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together. 

In a seemingly Vanished World, this Creator is constantly making approaches to our defenses, sending a son to learn some of those defenses, understanding the world.  Jesus learning the human struggle with spiritual direction.  Jesus born in the cold.  Coming to grips with what he saw on this earth.  Jesus, lost in the temple, not really having yet found his global position in history. Jesus growing up human, and coming to ask why.  Why?  Why in the Christian world, with a savior, did he have to learn how to use his own creativeness, like any other kid?  And then how, in the name of God?

How in a world of hunger each day, to grab people’s attention.  How in the name of God to act, like any human who had a life to live?  Spiritual direction was deciding the how.  In a world with such an urgent need, why did it have to wait? 

It was a car maintenance morning with a spiritual direction. My mind was on maintenance, in a down market. The theme of the day, maintaining what I had.  In an all too vanished world. In a spiritual direction,maintaining a purpose. A lot of us were blind, and in need of a well trained dog leading in a spiritual direction.  Toward God.  Almost silently.  


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