A colleague asked me if I’d like to offer spiritual direction for participants at an upcoming Ignatian retreat. As soon as I got her e-mail, I knew I wanted to say yes. I’ve done it before; I love listening to what happens in retreatants’ prayers and helping them deepen their experience of God. But that Saturday I already had two commitments. If I accepted her invitation, I would need to shorten my visit with a friend who was coming from out-of-town and miss hanging out with our grandchildren that afternoon.
“I’d still be there for the rest of their sleepover,” I said to Fred.
“But you’ll be tired,” he replied.
Rescheduling the visits wasn’t an option. It was obvious: I should turn down this opportunity.
It took me a few days to get back to my colleague. I kept hoping there would be some way I could go. I held two things in tension: the strong desire to do something I love and the realization that this strong desire was not from God.
Whenever I’ve felt the pull to say yes and do something life-giving for others, I haven’t given it a second thought. I assume this desire must be from God. Now I know it might not. Now I can see how I got hoodwinked into doing so much in the fall. Some of the fruit of my labour was exhaustion. No wonder I didn’t want to do much during Advent.
Ignatius would have said “the evil spirit” used false consolation to hoodwink me. Thomas Merton might have suspected my “False Self” was deceptively feeding my desire for honour and pride. Either way, I must concede: sometimes there is a dark force at work in me that doesn’t have my best interest at heart. But, by God’s grace and with Fred’s help, I’m onto it.
Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick
figs from thorn bushes or grapes from briers.
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Our daughter, Heidi, has been creating beautiful things ever since she got the hang of scissors. Her love of textiles and respect for all living things eventually sparked the idea for what is now Vegan Yarn. In her home studio, Heidi hand-dyes plant-based, predominantly organic yarns with earth-friendly dyes. Vegan Yarn is shipped to knitters and shop owners all over the world. “We work mindfully to create beautiful things that exist for more than their own sake, that do not exist at the expense of someone’s happiness but as works of art that are made of freedom, compassion and joy.” –Heidi Braacx