My Catholic writer’s block I’ve found stems from one thing. Spiritual desolation. Part of the ups and downs of every day faith life. It might be resulting from lack of prayer. Or God calling me to a new way in relationship with Him. A dark night of the soul.
Spiritual desolation is an Ignatian idea, and is an experience of the soul in darkness. Symptoms are being assaulted by doubts, temptations, and mired in self-preoccupations. You might be restless and anxious and feel cut off from others. Things which Ignatius said “move one toward lack of faith and leave one without hope and without love.”
I think I’ve shown all the symptoms. I’ve been stressed about the areas of my life that I’m most passionate about. The areas that God has created me for and that I’m called to. Marriage. My children. Writing. It can be very frustrating. When in the middle of spiritual desolation it is hard to imagine ever being ‘in tune’ with God again. The same way that when you are sick you can never imagine being well again. When your whole life and lifestyle revolves around your faith you can wonder what’s the point?
And the answer thats hitting me? One thing. Let go and let God.
With writing I’ve learnt, that if I force it my results are terrible. I sit down, and wrack my brain, and simply nothing works. My words stop. One. By. One.
But if I’m in touch with God, things flow. I might be in Mass and after communion I’ll get the words. Words poured like water, heaped upon me, sentence after sentence, with meaning. They work. It might not be my timing. And I might not even have pen and paper or computer nearby to get them down and have to store them up in my head for the moment when I can let them all go. It can seem inconvenient. But these words are a gift, not mine no matter how much they flow out of me. They work through me, hopefully speaking to someone who reads them.
Many things in life are like this. Most of my life I’ve been a worrier. About things ranging from clothes, school, university, work, friendships, relationships, money, health, family, plans for the future… Since becoming a practicing Catholic I have to say, I’ve been greatly, greatly improved in this area.
The things we stress most about we put on ourselves. Rack our brains for what ‘we’ can do. We create problems out of nothing. Often not trusting others, let alone God with the solution. We are in a world where ‘we’ need to be in control.
The best things happen out of our control. Perhaps unexpectedly, or at an inconvenient time, or maybe (but perhaps least frequently) exactly when we planned. And they change our lives and work for the best. Perhaps they challenge us more than we thought we could ever be challenged but we come out better than we thought we could be. The things that scared me the most shaped me in the best way, were the most rewarding and encouraged me to build up a relationship with Christ that is unexplainable. That ultimately, leads to a happiness that cannot be found elsewhere.
But as Matthew 6 tells us: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
It might not get us out of the rut of spiritual desolation and to spiritual consolation straight way, but there is the answer. One thing. Let go and let God.