Today’s quote comes from The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages” by Joan Chittister, O.S.B.
“After years of trying to achieve a degree of spiritual depth with little result, after a lifetime of uphill efforts with little to show for it, the lure is to let it be, to stop where we are, to coast. We begin to make peace with tepidity. We begin to do what it takes to get by but little that it takes to get on with the spiritual life. We do the exercises but we cease to “listen with the heart.” We do the externals – the church-going and the church-giving – and we call ourselves religious, but we have long since failed to care. A sense of self-sacrifice dies in us and we obey only the desires and the demands within us.”
(Chittister expanding on Benedict’s caution against being a Sarabaite, one who has a character “soft as lead” taking for themselves a law of what they like to do. A “most detestable” kind of monastic as described by Benedict. Italicized emphases in the Chittister selection are mine.)
One need not be a monastic to see themselves in this. I suspect a Sarabaite was “nice” enough, maybe even well-meaning enough. Chittister goes on to comment that this is a religious practice of comfort and being comfortable. A life filled with God’s love and joy tends to be one lived on the growing edges, I think, quite frequently. Growing edges aren’t always safe or cozy. Tepidity is comfortable. “Being good” can be comfortable. Looking good can be more so. Comfortable sometimes keeps us from living life to the fullest though, I think sometimes.
Heavenly Father, draw me ever nearer to your fiery heart of love, a place where all tepidity is banished and wholly out of place. Give me eyes to see as you see, ears to hear what I should hear and a heart that responds, that burns with love for you and my fellow creatures. Keep me from coasting to that valley where I fail to care. If you find me slipping and coasting back down the hill, lift me up to you until I can be made stronger to follow you more nearly and dearly. Nudge me out of the mere comfort zone and ho-hum complacency into the places where love is found, and is sorely needed. Let me live there and share there and CARE there. Amen.