Not knowing each of my readers as well as I should like, I can not tell how often eyes are rolled as I bring up base principles of our faith for discussion. Nor could I say how many are turned off by my persistent "preaching". If it were possible, I would wish that I could speak in many tongues as the apostles did... but rather than speaking in the language of each person's nationality, I would wish to speak in the language of each person's heart. I would wish that I could be intimately acquainted with all my readers and be with them and help them through all their trials. But since I have not been given the capacity for this singular gift, I am offering the principle issues through which God may desire to do that which I cannot.
The title of this post is "baby steps" and rightly relates to my comments above. When I revealed to Mother Abbess and Mother Vicaress at Bethlehem Monastery that I felt called to enter there, I was surprised by Mother Vicaress' joy! She told me that when I enter I get to be a little child again as I begin to move forward with my vocation. I have often spoken of a vocation as a lifelong calling, as well as the more specific calling of Christ to a certain state in life. Mother Vicaress' words helped me to realize that when I am answering God's call to a certain state in life, I will be beginning with baby steps as I, newborn, make my way to my Vocation.
What does this have to do with my posts on this blog? Everything! Discernment is a time of spiritual formation as one prepares to follow God's Will. To lose sight of the base principles of our Faith and of spirituality can cause spiritual confusion and collapse. It is as if one forgets to walk by running so long, and when his legs grow tired they fall out from under him. It is like one who has spent so long staring at words that he forgets his abc's, or is so deeply into complex mathematics that he cannot add, subtract, or count; all the learning falls to pieces until this basic knowledge is restored. Or it is as if one has built a tower of blocks and removed the foundation blocks. Our faith cannot be built on nothing, we must have a consistent understanding of the principles of our faith if we are to live our vocation as God desires.
Throughout our entire lives, specifically through our discernment and where our vocation is concerned, we must take the baby steps very seriously. Even Jesus specifically grew in His Jewish religion to show us how we must prepare and build our towers of faith on a strong foundation. When we forget some specific teaching, or understanding, we must patiently go back and review the basics. Every word of our faith can sprout up into many concepts, but if we forget the word itself the concepts are worth nothing.
It is a favorite saying of mine to say "the moment we stop moving, we die." This is true especially for spiritual growth! We must expect to be constantly learning, constantly taking baby steps to Christ, and constantly renewing those footsteps we have forgotten.
These "baby steps" tie directly into the concept of the forever moment and the forever movement. We must always perceive the present as something we can make perfect. Let me share with you an anecdote that I once shared with a friend:
We walk in a desert, leaving only footprints in the sand. Our hope is to reach an oasis, but we cannot see it. We never seem to be making progress as we leave each footprint, nor do we appear to be progressing towards our destination. But God looks at each footprint and takes either delight or sorrow in it. He watches with loving kindness as each footprint is made, and sees them even after the sands have covered them up and we can see them no longer. We must strive to make each footprint perfect for Him. The more perfect our footprints become, the more complex and beautiful we make them, the more we perceive the oasis. For the oasis is not in the distance, it is always there hidden by a veil. As we grow in perfection, we do not move nearer the oasis... rather, we become more and more aware of it in the midst of the desert.
Let us always take care that we progress during each moment, and leave behind us a lovely footprint. That, slowly, as we grow in skill and care, we may see more clearly through the veil in faith as we suffer in this desert. One day it will not be the eyes of faith, or the eyes of the soul, that see the Oasis... it will no longer be hidden through a veil and the desert will transform. Take care that your footprints are made perfect through Christ... for you can never reach an oasis in the distance, you must grow in the perfection so that your sight of the Omnipresent Oasis may become whole.