Saturday, April 22, 2006

Confront the Noon-day Devil

The Fine young Fool coos inside.

He rises from his nap on this rain-infested April afternoon. I hope he's feeling more rested. We re-arranged his room last night. His new crib-bed now sits along the wall near his closet. Well, he didn't sleep well last night, according to my parents. The Blushing Bride and I took a well-needed night out for coffee and dessert, so Grandma and Grandpa pinched-hit for us.

The Blushing Bride just arrived. Fine young Fool took that moment to get up. She came home without Finding Nemo, so now he's crying.

Another moment's peace.

These are the days of the noon-day devil for lay people, especially families.

The hum-drum of consistent routine can plague us. We begin to ask, "is this all there is?" Then we begin to seek answers to that question. Sometimes, we seek them in the wrong places. Othertimes, we seek them in the wrong way.

This is much like the difficulty those first Hermits in the desert experienced once Christianity became permitted by the Roman Empire. Alone in their cells, with the noon-day heat oppressing them without a sign of relief, many wondered if they truly lived God's call. Some reacted by moving; hence, many became spiritual nomads, wondering from place to place. Some of these wandered from community to community. But never for long; inevitably, the noon-day devil would strike again.

I have faced mine today.

That curious restlessness swarmed over me like the day's downpour. I felt utterly unsatisfied. Something was missing.

It had nothing to do with the facts. I've blogged well all week. A series of short stories that may evolve into my first novel keep haunting me; this week, I began another one of them. My writer's workshop compatriots loved it! The family has been healthy. We've enjoyed at least two fulfilling outings. I've gotten a lot of sleep; the last traces of the long illness I'd fought passed away. In short, life went well!

So whither, then, comes this discontent?

Suddenly, my accomplishments this week amount to naught. I can do more! My blogging could attract more readers. My stories should already be written. The family has had too many health issues this year! The week, for all it's relaxation, has passed too quickly! The Fine young Fool gets up too early. In short, "life stinks!"

These thoughts plague me; They gnaw at my serenity like ravenous termites. They erode my confidence. They waste my day.

They should; they're the insidious whispers of the noon-day devil! What better temptations can such a devil offer me when I'm living well within the rhythms we call routine?

We've all faced this, haven't we?

What can we do about it?

We can live out two words: pay attention.

We pay attention to the day as it emerges, not as we think it appears. We pay attention to our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, our colleagues and the strangers we encounter. Why? Because when we do, we live in the present.

That's where we encounter our Savior.

We meet him where we are. We meet him as we are. That happens here and now. When we face our Lord in the present, and open ourselves to his presence, we're delivered from that nagging discontent that robs us of our peace. We will laugh off the thoughts of doubt that plague us like a sea of weeds. We're liberated from our self-doubt.


We live out our encoutner with the Lord through our participation in the life he's given us. We live it out by manifesting the compassion he himself shows us to those in our lives. We live it through our prayer and our partaking of the sacraments.

The noon-day devil loses his power to tempt us to spiritual sloth and despair when we respond to our Lord's grace through our paying attention to our lives here and now. Our freedom from the perpetual restlessness and dissatisfaction awaits!

Let us be free: right here, right now!