Opinion | Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson: Community and Quiet: Two ways to nurture our souls

The following is an excerpt from my journal around the end of May:

“Because it snowed last night and left inches of snow on my car, I didn’t go to Mass this morning. Instead, I made myself a cup of coffee sat in my big chair and read the Bible readings for this coming Sunday’s mass and in those passages, I found the answers to questions I had about how I could find a closer personal relationship with God and that is by spending time with God alone one on one in stillness.

“When we give ourselves time and space to experience God firsthand our experience of God can be more intimate more personal more freeing. It was such a welcome answer to prayer, but I spent the next two hours there.

“I write often about our need for community especially for an introvert like me who would brothers stay home then go anywhere else. But finding my spiritual community here in Summit County has been a source of friendship and has helped me grow in my faith.

“Yet I’ve found that in addition to community I need deep personal relationships friendships that become the person I call when I need to hear a voice that understands me. Those friendships take time and trust and vulnerability and that is the relationship that God is inviting me into. A deep personal relationship that takes time and trust and especially vulnerability. A willingness to share my not so beautiful self with God.”

Since that morning, I have made a habit of beginning each morning with 10 minutes of reading the Psalms. Then, before I head upstairs to bed, I finish the day by praying the rosary and reading Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. What I’ve discovered most evenings is that as I am reading the Psalms included in the Night Prayer, I encounter passages that perfectly describe what is on my heart that evening, and finding those words gives me peace and helps me to sleep.

As the familiar saying goes, no man is an island, not even an introvert like me. And so my spiritual life also includes attending the 8 a.m. Mass three mornings a week at Saint Mary’s Church in Breckenridge and again once during the weekend. To be honest some mornings I am rushing out the door at 7:45 and not 30 minutes before I was in bed telling myself I would take the morning off.

And yet it seems that especially on those mornings when I promised myself, I would just stay in bed and then at the very last moment changed my mind and arrived just in time for the start of Mass or sometimes a few minutes late, that I discovered the most fulfilling spiritual experience and closeness to God during Mass.

This says to me that making that extra effort is well worth it and the reward is so much sweeter because I discovered God there with me.

But there’s also another good reason and that is community. I see familiar faces at those weekday Masses — people who know me and with whom I will enjoy coffee and doughnuts and conversation after Mass, people who check in to make sure all is well. People with whom I will build friendships, invite to my Thanksgiving table, go to a summer cookout, or enjoy a Hail Mary hike each week, as we did last Tuesday.

We need community not only because it adds a rich dimension to our spiritual life to talk with others who can share our frustration with unanswered prayers and our joy for those that are answered, but it is also here in church that we form friendships that follow us throughout the week outside of church and at let us know that we are not alone. I hope you will try some of my suggestions this week and see which of the which of them fit you well enough to become daily habits. I believe you will experience not only a much richer spiritual walk with God, but I believe you will also find the beginnings of lasting friendships.

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