With the exception of two holiday parties I have to attend in succession tonight, between the committal I did this morning (alone with just the undertaker and a social worker, may the deceased rest in peace) and what will surely be a very long and challenging Spanish confessions gig tomorrow night, I have about 34 hours of time off. I'm trying to use it well; with both Christmas and the solemnity of the Motherhood of Mary falling across my usual days off, I probably won't catch another break until right before the weekend of Epiphany.
So, the usual stuff to recover and renew: pray, quiet down inside, tidy up. Tomorrow I'll try to get to confession. This afternoon I took some time for spiritual reading; not in the stretching and challenging way in which I know I should usually take it, but in the reparative mode which knows that I need something solid to remind me of the love of God and my need to be just that--diligent--in living it if I hope not to fall apart in the midst of so many distractions, troubles, and scandalizations I have to suffer--things that I can't unsee or unhear.
In the afternoons the sun strikes forcefully on the side of the friary opposite my room. Looking up from my reading at a certain moment, perhaps around three o'clock, I noticed that my door was open just a few inches and that the strong yellows and oranges of the sunlight were bright around it, illuminating the corner of my room around the door. The rest of my room was dimly lit, dusty, littered with piles of books and notebooks, some in active use, others representing neglected projects. As I noticed the contrast between the rest of my room and the afternoon sun creeping around the door, I started to think about it as an image of my soul.
My soul is something like my room, full of words and ideas packed away here and there, some of them useful and others a distraction and all of it somewhat dusty and unmotivated. My dilettantism and philistinism are revealed by the variously negected discernments and ambitions that are lying around. On the other hand all the tools are there to become who I say I am, who I know I want to be in God. There are a lot of good intentions, and certain virtues that have been acquired through the intersection of Providence and some willingness to work. But all of this only means anything because there is some obscure edge or corner of my soul--how coarse it is to try to speak in such terms!--that has become illuminated by the Light Itself. To follow this Light is prayer, or at least--in the language of the best compliment I have ever received--the "desire for prayer."
This is why Jesus tells us that secret and solitude are necessary for prayer. To go to the inner room and close the door is necessary if we are to even notice the other Door that opens up into the Light.