I wrote my last column about “Taking the Next Step” which was a weekly reflection on the gospel, faith, and the struggles and joys of being Catholic. This was my final piece which was sent out earlier this week.
For about a year, I have been writing these small reflections on how to “take the next step” in faith. As I write my last piece this week, I began wondering if and how writing these reflections has deepened my faith. But how does one go about measuring such a large, expansive, and mysterious concept? And what does it mean to be “deeper” in faith?
I looked back at where I was a year ago, remembered my struggles, recalled my anxieties, joys, questions, and thoughts and it soon became evident: Yes. I have grown. The journey didn’t bear significant markers or milestones, but a rhythm emerged out of establishing a regular practice of asking, “What is God saying to me this week?” and not just thinking about it, but actually articulating it in words, offering it to others. It turns out that giving food to others is the only true way to feed yourself.
Where were you a year ago? That question is usually reserved for New Year’s Eve, but for so many of us, August is just as equally a time of transition. The change of seasons is drawing near, academic calendars begin anew, and the sounds of summer are beginning to fade. What were you praying for a year ago, what occupied your heart last August? Has it changed?
Some of my favorite theologians have said that life is not a linear process, nor is our relationship with God. Meaning, our relationship with God is not like our earthly relationships with one another where we experience and distinguish relationships by periods of closeness, then distance, and everything in between. Our God is a hopeless one; hopelessly in love in all that we do. God is the immoveable love rock. That has not changed from last year. What should be different is our response to God’s repeated callings to engage with Him.
Take the next step this week and create a “compare and contrast” list, asking yourself this question: What are you doing more deeply or differently since last year in your life of faith?
For me, the regular practice of writing what my spiritual eye saw softened me to regard the world as God does – with more gentleness, patience, and humor. When I first started doing it a year ago, I stumbled and didn’t know what to write, but it got easier as the weeks went on which led me to conclude that, perhaps, taking the first step will always be the most difficult but after a little while, taking the next step becomes the most natural thing to do.