Today seems like a miniature of how my week has been and, I think, will continue to go. A lot of great things have happened: I went to a fancy dinner (and had my dinner paid for), participated in some great conversation at that dinner, attended mass for the Annunciation, and managed to survive the un-springlike temperatures this fourth day of April and of my praxis experience. At the same time, I had what seemed and still seems like a million tasks to complete, the most important of which (a paper due Friday) I did not have time to work on at all during the day. Stress mixes with inspiration, frustration with delight, to form a confusing but, thanks be to the Lord, generally positive experience.
My most difficult practice today: still the avoidance of the Divine Name. No matter how hard I try, it seems to slip out at least five times a day. I almost wish I had a little buzzer or shocker app to deter me each time I say the name. I know it’s not a sin when I say it, but I still feel like I’m letting the Trinity down in some sense when I fail to take the time and thought to find some other term to describe Her. On the bright side, I can use terms like Trinity, Jesus, Christ, and Holy Spirit as substitutes, whereas Jews cannot.
Remembering thanksgiving after meals also continues to present challenges, though it’s getting better as time goes on. It’s most difficult when I’m in social situations, simply due to the fact that I’m often in the middle of a conversation when a meal ends and giving thanks slips my mind entirely. I suppose I should advertise this practice more to those with whom I break bread: support systems, as A. J. Jacobs repeatedly showed in his book, are essential to maintaining, improving, and learning from any religious practice.
Meat and dairy are still easy to separate, though I never realized how often the two are paired together – at least in Wisconsin, a cheese utopia and, like most of America, a major consumer of meat. I’m also not using separate sets of cutlery for these two food groups, mainly because I am a stereotypical college student (i.e., poor and cheap when it comes to things other than clothing). However, my cutlery is already almost divided between meat and dairy; I mainly use spoons for the latter (cereal with milk, yogurt, and the like) and knives, forks for the latter (ham and such), or just my hands (sandwiches, etc.).
As I stated in my journal for Day Three, I will try to participate in at least five minutes of praise and/or meditation when I rise at midnight.
Though one of my practices, observing the Sabbath, is officially done, I still want to carry its lesson and its peace with me throughout this week, a desire that appeared swiftly and strongly today in the face of so many assignments and duties. Therefore, I will attempt to take at least 10 minutes for pleasure reading or other relaxation activities each day. I also often have the tendency to do mundane tasks that don’t require much thought as I pray. They actually often help me focus, but, at the same time, I realize they also can interrupt and go against the very point of prayer: connecting with the Divine. Thus, I’m also going to do my best to maintain an inward and outward stillness as I pray over the next week. Who knows? I might keep up these practices past the length of this praxis assignment. I think it would be nice to do so.
In some way, I already feel like I’m observing the spirit of the Sabbath – intentionality, quiet, and gratitude – more in my actions and thoughts this week due to this assignment. Yes, it is another task on the mountain of tasks that I already have, but 1) it’s unique and 2) it is a mandatory addition to my spiritual life, something I already want to continually cultivate and grow.
I may not always have time to pray as much as I want to or to attend daily mass, but I know that I can recognize and worship the Divine through my everyday actions. As Father Andrew Ciferni, O. Praem., a fantastic and erudite priest here at St. Norbert College, has stated several times, this is the root of true mysticism: seeing and experiencing and loving the Trinity in this world as the basis of all reality instead of trying to escape the world. Or, as Mother Teresa put it, “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
May Love comfort, protect, sustain, and inspire us this evening and every day to come. ~