Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Storms in nature and in our lives are not always wet. Fierce hurricane winds and gully-washers do bring floods. But there are also devastating dust storms and sand storms where water would be welcome. In nature and in our spiritual lives, sometimes we are scorched with heat and the monotony of arid sameness and sand dunes stretching as far as the eye can see.

At times we go through spiritual dry spells when we feel no emotion, no nearness to God, no visions or thrilling brushes of angel wings which other people seem to experience. Even our devotion to God slacks off and our appetite for the sacraments and the company of God's people in dulled. Even to maintain our faith and witness begins to feel like a heavy burden. 

When the other disciples were experiencing the exhilarating presence of Jesus who suddenly appeared at their gathering after His resurrection, the disciple Thomas wasn't there. We are not told why he was absent. Maybe isolating himself in despair and doubt somewhere, disillusioned by the tragic outcome of his hopes in Jesus? At times we may feel as if we too aren't there when God is showing up to others. 

Are such dry times in our spiritual lives abnormal? Shouldn't we expect to be constantly and effervescently reveling in consolations and emotional highs? Could it be that God is actually allowing us to go through arid times in order to draw us closer? That seems like a paradox.

When I see the Lord beckoning to me from the DryLand of the Desert, I really don't want to follow. I shake my head and decline His invitation. I much prefer to lie down in green pastures and have spiritual picnics beside the cool, still waters to keep my soul restored with His constant nearness to comfort me. I want oasis living all the time! I favor the burning-heart emotional leaning close to Jesus' breast. 

But He persists, extending His nail-scarred hand toward me in my comfort zone. “I have deep things to teach you when we walk together in the DryLand as well as on the mountain top. There is a necessary ebb and flow in life and both are in my plan for you.” 

How should I respond when I go through such dry times? A fourteenth century mystical writer and Franciscan tertiary, Blessed Angela of Foligno, offered sound spiritual counsel.

“...Do not pray less or keep vigils less often, or do any other good works any less when divine grace is withdrawn from you than when it is in your possession. It is a good thing and very acceptable to God if you [keep faithfully doing these] when the fervor of divine grace is with you; but it is altogether most pleasing and acceptable to God when that grace or warmth is lacking or has been withdrawn from you—either because of some deficit in you or, which is most often, to amplify and increase God's grace in you. 

“Act without grace [consolations] just as you do when you have grace. Even if you suffer tribulations or temptations, which serve to [chastise] and purify [every son whom the Father receives], and grace is taken from you, continue your persistence in [devotion and good works.]”

God wants me to be just as faithful and steadfast when the emotional well of my spiritual life is dry as in the times when my heart burns within me on life's way. In the fulness of time the apostle Thomas received His individual consolation compelling him to make his celebrated declaration of faith, “My Lord and my God!” We too will experience the flow after the ebb in God's appointed time if we are willing to walk in desert times with Him when He calls us.


Lord, I know I should be willing
to walk in The DryLand
if it's with You—and yet
I'm not eager.
Actually, I'm disinclined and reluctant
because I sweat in the heat
it's not comfortable in the desert
my tender feet burn and split
my throat is parched
I swallow sand and grit
hot wind bites my fevered face.

But I know You are trusting me
to carry Your Living Water
the only cup of refreshing
that can quench the thirst
of other travelers
who also must journey through
the DryLand.

Please give me Your grace
not to draw back
to keep my eyes on Your face
and not be slack
in my commitment
in my devotion to You.

If I myself do not feel
the blazing heat
an aching heart
pressure beyond measure
temptations and trial
nor find You sufficient
for every mile
of my own DryLand
I would not care to share
Your Water with another.

Accept my weak willingness
to walk in arid deserts
as well as verdant valleys
that I might become
Your watered garden
Your spring of refreshing
to meet the needs of those
whose stumbling, blistered feet
You bid me wash (as You did)
while all of us
journey together with You
through life's DryLand.

Isaiah 58:11
"And the Lord will...satisfy your desire in scorched
places...and you will be like a watered garden and
like a spring of water whose waters do not fail."

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