Friday, July 15, 2011

Be Mastered By the Basics In the Spiritual Life

Lake Michigan stone-skipper
 I've always thought, when a football team has to use a lot of "trick plays," it's a sign that they are in trouble. On the other hand, a football team that can block and tackle better than their opponent has the greater chance of winning. In sports, in learning to play a musical instrument, in relationships, in whatever I think, the answer regarding the question of success is: master the basics. I've told my guitar students: master the basic scales. Without that your guitar laying will never be creative.

It is the same in the spiritual life, with a twist. Which is: be mastered by the basics. Be mastered by God. There is no need to get fancy or trendy here. No need to discover some new spiritual truth. No need to attend some "special conference." The truths of the spiritual life are not secrets. They stand before you to be grasped today. Focus on them.

To take one example, which is also the greatest example, focus on love. Be mastered by the love of Christ. You haven't been yet, so this would be huge. Do not move on to something else! The love of Christ is simple, but not simplistic. God's love is deep, not shallow; it is wide, not thin; it is high, not low; it is long, not short.

Thomas Merton has written: "Keeping a journal has taught me that there is not so much new in the interior life as one sometimes thinks. When you reread your journal you find out that your newest discovery is something you found out five years ago. Still, it is true that one penetrates deeper and deeper into the same ideas, the same experiences." (Merton, Thomas (2007). A Year with Thomas Merton (Kindle Locations 3732-3734). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.)

Growing deeper and deeper into Christ and His love is to discover new things about the same thing. I think that if you and I were more mastered by Christ's love it would be life overwhelming, life overflowing.

Today stick to the basics, the most foundational of which is: Love.