Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

I'm hungry.

And not just because it's Ash Wednesday and I've been fasting. No. I feel like I woke up from hibernation ravenous, except my stomach is my soul. There's no other way to explain it. You know how when you've been sick with a long illness and you just sort of get used to it, and then suddenly you're well and you realized just how badly it sucked to be sick? Sort of like that.

I don't really think I was sick, necessarily. I think I got complacent. It can happen to any of us about anything, and without really thinking. We fall off the diet wagon, stop our good habits. Often, it's something sudden and jolting that makes us stop and look at our feet and realize we weren't really paying attention to the path. For me, I had sat on my spiritual laurels for too long. I had assumed that at one point in my life I had worked everything out in my head and my heart, so I was good. I didn't really need to keep practicing at it, keep searching. I was done. I could go on and just live life now.

Except faith isn't like that. Faith is endless.

I was reminded with some reading earlier this week that God, like all the things he is compared to - Love, Beauty, Truth - is completely unending. Totally infinite. And I realized that I had limited myself. I had told myself that what I had done was good enough, that where I was was fine. And it is fine. But there's much more. I was barely scratching the surface of faith, and I thought it was a meal.

I spent a lot of time over the last month feeling disheartened and a little beat up over many things - the state of the world, my microscopic chance to make any lasting sort of change in it. I fell into what can best be described as a spiritual depression. Then, in the desperation of a convert, I reached out and felt a hand, and heard a voice.

It said, "Come with me. I want to show you something."

And I followed.

So now, I have book lists, and prayer lists, and things to write and look up, philosophers and theologians and saints. I'm sitting at a banquet, one that was always available to me. And the more I read and the more I pray, the more I see the beauty, and the truth, and the love that's there. Infinity.

I realize that to some this may sound extreme. After all, most of you know me already as a pretty devout Catholic. Not necessarily a good one, and I don't expect that will change much. But that's the wonderful thing about it that I found in these last few weeks. Conversion is a continual turning toward God, because there is always more turning to do. As C.S. Lewis writes in The Last Battle, there is always the call of Aslan the Lion, "Further up and further in!"

I plan to write a bit more about my faith journey here, especially as it intersects with the other areas of my life that I write about more often. In looking back at this blog, it becomes apparent that while I may have thought a lot about faith as a general principle, I didn't do a great job of exploring its daily application. I'm hoping that during this Lent I can work on changing that, both by walking the path more intentionally and by reflecting on it in my writing.

Here's to conversion. Further up and further in!

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