The Fourth Sunday of Easter, already. The Sundays of Easter always seem to go faster than those of Lent, no? I appreciate this fourth Sunday because it's now that the great shift of the Easter season comes into focus: with the Sunday of the Good Shepherd we have moved definitively from the simple and bold announcement of the Risen Lord to a celebration of how this Lord remains present to us and with us. Of course this movement comes to its fulfillment at Pentecost, with the Gift Who is the Holy Spirit.
One way the Good Shepherd has been with me in these days is in my search for a spiritual director. Since coming to Rome I have known that a spiritual director was something I wanted to give to myself. In one sense it might seem like something not too difficult; Rome, after all, is lousy with priests and religious. Surely the Holy Spirit could find one of them willing and fitting for this relationship with me.
But the truth is that I have yet to find someone. I have prayed for God to show me the way to someone I might ask, I have made requests and sent letters, and so far I have not arrived at anyone. Right now I have two possibilities that I have followed up on with letters and I pray they have the effect that God wills for me.
According to a worldly logic, it could seem frustrating; an effort with no result. But the truth is that I feel fine with it; it is my faithfulness to the process that matters. I seek a spiritual director because I want to care for and cultivate a spiritual life; while I am seeking that care and cultivation lies partly in the search itself, in my faithfulness to following up on recommendations, to discerning whether some suggestion may be from the Holy Spirit, etc.
In a way it's like prayer itself. Does prayer yield clearer ideas of God? Perhaps not. But it does give us trust in the Mystery even as our entering into it renders it ever more mysterious. Does prayer make clearer the path that God sets out for us, our next steps? Not always. But prayer prepares us to trust the path even when we can see no more than the very next step, and strengthens us to take that step with a certain serenity.