Water, fish, and the Spirit’s yearning.

“I don’t pray,” said my spiritual director once. Before I had time to do more than blink at the incongruency of a sister of Saint Joseph stating so emphatically that she doesn’t do one of the central tenets of our faith, she continued: “the Spirit within me prays and reaches out to Itself”.

I’m struggling to get back into my spiritual practice because it’s fallen off the radar – partly because I’ve been busy, but partly because I’ve made my busyness into a barrier to something that’s vital, and lifegiving, and hard, and sometimes painful, and sometimes frightening. There was a (short) while, though, where my spiritual practice was an integral part of each day. And that time was, in a way I can’t quite put my finger on, different.

Sitting quietly one day in prayerful meditation (or as close to it as my constantly-whirring mind can get), I found the name of an old friend rising to my consciousness. This happened over several days and I found myself, strange as it seems, drawn to praying for her. I found out several weeks later that she’d been unwell at the time, struck down by a virulent virus that laid her low for weeks. Why did the name of someone I hadn’t spoken to or thought of for quite some time come to the forefront of my mind during those times of prayer? The Spirit reaching out to Itself, indeed.

Now, though, my spirituality and my spiritual practice have fallen off the radar – and while I’m permeated and surrounded and underpinned by the Source of my being, I’ve lost that sense of mindfulness of it. I’m the fish that swims around happily inside his tank, entirely and blissfully unaware of the water that suspends and sustains him. Which is fine – he is no less supported and sustained for his oblivion – but the difference is that the water which supports him is not yearning for him to reach out to it, to open himself to it. The water which supports him does not also dwell within him, waiting as the Sacred does in us to be, to quote Michael Mayne, “released into expression”.

The Spirit within me yearns to be sought, and drawn upon. Despite my own questions around my worth, my value, the Creator yearns for connection with me, Its creature. And despite my fear, the creature longs for the Creator.

All of which means I have to do something. Like the fish, I will be no more or less sustained and supported because of my consciousness of that fact: nothing, actually, will change.

And yet, everything will change.

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