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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wandering Desire

A reflection on John 14

Jesus said to his disciples:  “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.  “I have told you this while I am with you.  The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  Not as the world gives do I give it to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubles or afraid.  You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away, and I will come back to you.’  If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.  And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.  JN 14:23-29

Ascension of Jesus
When I was a little girl my family moved to Minnesota and we joined the local Presbyterian Church.  It was in this church that the love of Jesus was cultivated in my heart.  And though the church of my childhood lacked most of the sacraments, they did direct us toward a relationship with Christ. I especially remember Miss Peggy reading us stories about Jesus, helping us to memorize the books of the Bible and to understand the parables through delightful songs.   It was made clear to me that I could be bold like Zacchaeus or Bartimaeus and call out to Jesus.  I could expect Jesus to come to me in prayer, to heal me and to save me.  I prayed to Him frequently and I did hear His voice. 

 As I journeyed on in life, I wandered off the narrow path, I crowded out the voice of the Lord with what seemed like more fulfilling and realistic pursuits.  I remember a particular moment I had wandered so far away from Him that I stood on the brink of renouncing a belief in the historicity of the life, death and resurrection of Christ as I had learned from the Bible.  I was ready to dismiss it as all spiritual concepts and nothing more. In those moments I found I had only the strength to proclaim an abstract spirituality and vague ethical guidelines.  Yet that love that had once been nurtured but was now lying dormant in my soul stirred up painfully in the moment of my temptation.  It was a nostalgic-like yearning for something that I could not quite put my finger on, at the same time I felt contempt for this feeling, I tried to dismiss it as foolish and un-intellectual but the feeling was persistent.
C. S. Lewis in his essay The Weight of Glory talks of what he calls a wandering desire for the transtemporal.  This desire is present in each of us and there is no natural satisfaction for it in this world because we do not belong to this world – we are exiles!   Deep in our hearts God has placed a yearning to dwell with the Lord, where we truly belong, and where our identities are truly fulfilled.  And not just “spiritually”, but the whole of our being.  Our bodies as well as our souls.  We belong in the gleaming city on the mountain, we are destined to bathe in the waters of the Spirit that flow from the Temple, to eat from the Tree of Life and bask in the light of the Lord, to be known by Him, to have Him delight in us.   We catch glimpses of eternal joy in this world, but they are fleeting and utterly beyond our grasp, though we try in so many misdirected ways to capture them.  I felt these stirrings in my youthful prayers to Jesus, and occasionally as I pass through my life, I am visited by moments where peace and joy seemed to pour out upon me.  But these moments always slip quickly by, and even as I am enjoying them I am aware of a sorrow that always co-mingles with this joy.  Because it is lost almost as soon as it is received.  If we have lost our relationship with Christ, it is so easy to lose any sense of peace that we are being drawn on toward something greater, we feel only loss and have no real hope of renewal.  Because what we seek we cannot find here.  The world’s peace always comes at a terrible cost.

Unfortunately for us, we live in a time of diminished imagination and dreary earthbound dreams of distant Utopian hopes.  “Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all out modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth.” (Lewis; Weight of Glory)  And how close I was to accepting that as the truth.  But what happened to awaken my awareness of how I had misunderstood and suppressed this wandering desire in me?  Fundamentally it was the love of Christ that was nurtured in my soul as a child.  Because I had heard His voice, and I longed to hear it again.   In that moment that I stood on the brink of disbelief I heard His voice quietly echoing a line of Scripture that I was not very conscious of at the time “Will you also leave me?” (John 6:67)  I literally dropped to my knees, because as the words were being spoken, I recognized His voice, and the other philosophies that I was flirting with were revealed to be barren, ugly and powerless in comparison to the voice I heard, which was so much like the vision of John in Revelations, containing with it all beauty and all love. My response was very much like Peter’s response to Jesus in the next verse, “There is nowhere else to go!”  I was always being beheld by Him and being drawn up by the bands of love.

After all these years, I still am astounded and grateful for how the very simple but earnest instructions of my parents and Sunday school teachers paved the way for that deeper conversion.   Now after having been a Catholic for a few years (okay for over 20 years, but who's counting?) I know how richly and concretely present He is in His Church, and how blessed anyone is who is born into our faith.  My love for Him has only deepened, and with this my attention to His words and how I am following them has sharpened.  So that, hopefully, when I walk into the world, and encounter the barren philosophies, His peace stays with me - even when I am opposed and confronted.  Because I am not just bringing my ideas of who Jesus is with me, but I am bring Him with me, I am letting His Spirit flow through me.  So that that wandering desire can be stirred up a bit in those that I interact with.  But first, I must love Him, and in loving Him I can follow His words.  


  1. This is A beautiful reflection Heidi. It's almost like you were writing about my life. The longing for heaven is always there but most strongly felt when I was on the wrong path. God bless you

  2. God is so good! He planted this "longing for the holy" within us (Fr. Ronald Rolheiser), and at some point in life, thanks to the Holy Spirit, we begin to channel our deepest desires the way they need to be channeled. It is almost always a conversion experience, I would guess. Your experience and reflection powerfully expresses this holy process. Thanks, Heidi; very beautiful!
    -Deacon Paul

    1. As I was writing this I was thinking of the discernment of spirits class you taught; the pull I was experiencing between the two feelings. Ignatian spirituality is such a blessing!


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