Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Hard Heart

As a young Catholic Worker, my mentor Bruce (who ran the St. Martin de Porres CW in Harrisburg) confessed to me one day as we were sitting outside, "Rob, my biggest fear is that my heart will harden." He was referring to the work of aiding the poor in an inner-city neighborhood. I have a lot of good memories of those days, but that one line stood out for me as a reality of doing God's work.

Bruce left the Worker suddenly amidst some scandal (allegations of sexual impropriety) and I had lost a mentor. There was no closure; just a gaping hole in the CW community. I missed Bruce, and left the community shortly thereafter. Had his heart finally gone cold, and was he just looking for an out? We'll never know. But I do remember the feelings of pain and betrayal that comes with someone you love and respect leaving you.

I think my own heart has hardened as of late, towards God, specifically, and towards all things Christian. I confessed this to my friend Andy today, and that I didn't know quite how to articulate it. I do remember reading in his Confessions that Augustine was initially turned off from the scriptures because they were not at all eloquent. I feel that way with Christian radio, literature, etc. It feels so superstitious or something, using the Bible to justify things, or people constantly talking about "God wants you to do this," or "this or that is God's will" like they know what they are talking about. I do know people of faith that I admire, whose faith I admire. But their explanations for why things happen or for what is going on in life feels so...I don't know...childish.

I have not been praying; that should have been my first red flag. I have my excuses, but in the back of my mind I'm really thinking, 'what good does it do to pray? I'd rather go to bed.' I feel like I'm in a stale marriage with God, where there are no new surprises; all the former professions of love seem childish in retrospect. I feel childish myself, refusing the pray out of spite, almost, for being in such a seemingly loveless relationship. My Invisible Spouse feels more like an imaginary friend. I'm embarrassed at my lack of faith and devotion, but don't know how to get it back. I could pray, but when I pray it is like my heart is constipated, and nothing comes out. How do you heal a hardened heart?


Anonymous said...

My humble opinion - God did not bless us with the beautiful gift of life just to have us spend it worshipping Him. That's just too obnoxiously vain for any God worth believing in.

All the books and buildings, ancient ceremonies and customs, stories and rules - they all serve their purpose. I just question whether it's God's purpose or man's purpose.

I think God would rather you live a good life being happy, bringing happiness to others, and making the world a genuinely better place, rather than spend it worrying over your relationship with or devoutness to Him.

Maintaining a constant appreciation for the wonder of life, the world, and all of creation is, in my opinion, the most gracious prayer one can offer.

Anonymous said...

How's your stress level in general? Have you done anything lately to refresh your spirit? Something out of the ordinary to get out of a rut, to enjoy yourself, relax ... go on retreat? Think of it as a 2nd honeymoon with your Spouse. Relationships need that sometimes.

You'll be in my prayers.