Father Mark, Reflections

Dryness

Four months ago when I began this journal when the COVID came to live among us, I wondered how long it would be that I could maintain three to four entries a week. A little over four months into our journey through this wilderness the dryness finally found me.

It happens. It’s a part of the journey. Summers are dry in Texas. It’s a part of the life cycle.

I am running into more of us who are in what we might call the dry cycle or drought. It’s like the cycle of grief where when we’re easing towards the sixth month of a loss, we begin to sink a little and we bottom out a little deeper. It doesn’t have to be depression of a clinical nature but may manifest itself in the blahs. Sometimes, even in some of the new directions I take, I can just lose steam and not feel like doing anything. So it’s like the Christopher Robin poem from A.A. Milne that I used awhile back. I find myself metaphorically “sitting in the middle of the stairs.”

Contrary to our cultural norm, Jesus did a lot of sitting. Sure, he walked everywhere he went except for Palm Sunday when he went by a donkey. But there was nary a day when he didn’t just sit and be still for extended periods in the day, often in the evening–but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t sit in solitude and stillness during the early morning hours.

Dryness isn’t a problem. It isn’t necessarily a signal that something is wrong. It is merely a symptom that our spirits need to be refreshed from the “chances and changes of this life” (BCP Compline). When the gas tank is low, we don’t become alarmed, but simply realize it’s time to go to the gas station for refueling.

So, as I’ve probably said many times before, do not be afraid of your emptiness, dryness or what ever you want to call it within. Simply sit with it, be in it and invite the Spirit, who is already present, to break through into our awareness. Listen, feel, and sit with it, even when the discomfort of it all leads you to want to get up and do something to stay busy to avoid it. The forty days in the wilderness comes during other times besides Lent. I don’t mean “forty” literally. “Forty” in Hebrew/Aramaic is a number signifying a long period of time, not necessarily “forty” days.

Dryness is the time when we allow God to love on us a little more than usual.

So let God love on you.

Dryness can be a holy place.

Fr. Mark