Opinion | Walking Our Faith: Making peace with the noonday devil
Walking Our Faith
“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence and privacy and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship” — C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory.”
It’s mud season. There are a few stalwarts still on the slopes, but most of our visitors have returned home. Our locals have taken this time to leave town as well, to head to the beach, visit grandchildren, attend graduations. There are moments when you could roll a bowling ball down French Street and not hit anyone.
It also feels like mud season for the soul after all the services of Holy Week. The emotional solemnity and ultimate joy of these most holy days can leave us feeling like we need a spiritual holiday as well.
If we feel exhausted by all the church services we attended during Holy Week or feel we’ve met one half of our twice-a-year obligation and can take a break until Christmas, well I feel you. I’ve felt the same untethered spiritual tiredness this week.
I struggled to define what I was feeling until I remembered a term Father Joe mentioned to me: sloth, one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
Also known as acedia, or a lack of “spiritual energy.” It was called the “noonday devil” by early Christian monks because it was thought to tempt one away from spiritual practice, to leave one’s desert cell to go off to seek interest elsewhere.
The temptation during this spiritual mud season is to, if not leave town, to stop going to church. “I just need a break,” becomes a whispered temptation when our alarm goes off on Sunday morning. Yes, even faith writers and pastors and priests and rabbis and imams can experience acedia.
Yet, this is the best time to seek God. To plant seeds for a more personal relationship deep in our hearts, at the very time we feel most like wandering away from God, is when we will reap the richest harvest.
Next Saturday I am joining fans of the High Country Conservation CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) to put up the protective plastic which forms a roof over the greenhouses. This is another tradition of mud season and a signal that planting season has begun and harvest season will eventually follow.
But you can’t have a harvest without careful preparations. Seeds planted in winter darkness are now vulnerable young seedlings, which will find protection from our cold nights by the plastic roof we prepare for them. Still, our belief in the eventual harvest is challenged when we look at the empty planting beds.
During this fallow time, we are called to act on faith. To plant our seeds, to nurture and protect our young plants, and hold the belief that all will be well with time. The darkness, the spiritual dryness we are going through, will eventually bear fruit.
We need not follow the noonday devil during our spiritual restlessness. Instead, God offers us something better: “Do not call to mind the former things; pay no attention to things of old. Behold I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
What practical means can we use to tackle our restless spirit? I have two suggestions: Now that our schedules are less frenetic, it’s the perfect time to turn off the TV, social media, and other distractions and for ten minutes each day, sit quietly with God, open our Bibles, read and then listen for what God has to say to each of us.
This is the time to ground ourselves in God’s word and in prayer, to put down deep roots in our faith. I would like you to join me over the next seven days. Just 10 minutes a day. Will you join me and then send me an email and tell me how it goes for you? Tell me if you’ve noticed a change, a sense of peace, or renewal, that carries over into the rest of your day.
Second, join others. I have found community and encouragement by joining others in silent prayer and meditation as a means to quiet our minds and focus our attention on God. This is the perfect reminder that God is not an ephemeral concept “out there” but a living vibrant part of us, within us.
If you would like to join others in the practice of silent prayer, I have suggestions around Summit County:
Mondays from 6-8 p.m. Adoration/silent prayer at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church
Wednesdays from 9:45-10:15 a.m. Centering prayer at Lord of the Mountains Church, followed by Bible study from 10:30-11:30, studying the Book of Job
Tuesdays from 12:15-12:45 p.m. Centering prayer at Saint John the Baptist Episcopal Church
Thursdays from at 5–6 p.m. Adoration at St Mary’s Catholic Church
Suzanne lives in Breckenridge. Her books can be found at Next Page Books and Nosh in Frisco and at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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