Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thou shall not tempt the Lord, thy God

Last year, while on the Long Retreat, I came down with a nasty stomach bug. So, while contemplating Christ's long fast in the desert, I too, was fasting (albeit for different reasons). The wind howled in a fierce storm outside. Even if I had felt up to walking, a walk would not have been in the cards. Even my hardy English neighbor gave it a pass. The setting was great for meditating on Christ's temptation -- though I wasn't tempted by food, there were other things that drew me away.

This week facing a medical test for which I needed to be sedated, I joked that -- in the midst of what has been a chaotic few weeks -- I would get a nap, and be out of the office for the rest of the day.

Thou shall not tempt the Lord. I just heard that Gospel read on Sunday, and you would think I would have listened more closely. Instead of a calm dreamy day at home, I ended up sicker than sick. My NYT rule precludes my giving any details, but suffice it to say even my 13-year old, who deeply enjoys things gross, decided he didn't want to hear about it either.

I remember wondering during the Long Retreat that -- since food was not in the least attractive at that moment, would I still be able to grasp what the tugs and pulls were in this scene? In the end, I suspect I had a deeper understanding. My own inadvertent fast stripped away the superficials and let me see that what tempts me most are not the momentary physical indulgences and comforts -- but the desire for certainty and predictability, a need for such spiritual comforts. What could and would I do, if I were willing to embrace uncertainty wholeheartedly in that realm?

This recent experience pushed me right back into the Exercises - confronting me once again that question, what would I dare if I were willing to step outside my comfort zone?

And I loved the bantering of the two protagonists -- all carried on in the language of the psalms.

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