1. I'm having an interesting Lent. Rather than take on any big spiritual tasks, I'm trying to do a better job of living my daily life "with Him." Being in God's presence, conscious that every small task, taking a shower, finding a child's lost shoes, changing a diaper, staying gracious while suffering pregnancy pain--everything thing is from him, for him, and with him.
I'm failing totally miserably, like 99% of the time. But the slight 1% of the time that I do something new "for God" is mind bendingly awesome!
2. I'm fighting to stay away from "spiritual pride." I had a bad, bad dose of spiritual pride as a Methodist. I'm not sure that I blame my former Protestant faith so much as humility and hiddeness were NOT on my radar. I used to boast in my Lenten fasts like "look what awesome things I'm doing for God in these 40 days."
Now, as a Carmelite I'm trying to be quieter. God doesn't need my fasts, or my prayers, or my alms. I don't need to go looking for crosses. God's merciful plan for my daily life is to send me plenty of crosses AND plenty of chances to do small acts of charity (plus moments for fasting, praying and alms-giving.) I'm doing myself a disservice if I just concentrate on the "big" charity things and miss out on the daily grind stuff. I really believe that handling my "daily grind" with prayer, hope and supernatural cheerfulness is what is going to get me into heaven.
3. Because I'm working on this in my own life "check-a-box" Catholics are driving me crazy. I really hate it when people are like "I'm good to go because I already checked off my God box today." I'm running into it all the time. 'Oh I went to Daily Mass", or "I visited a nursing home this week" or "I put money in the poor box."
It feels like nails on a chalk board to me when I run into this situation. So pray for me, because I've really got to stop being so judgmental!!!!! I'm working myself into a extra round of purgatory, if not the actual pit of hell. Just because I'm working on this issue does not mean that the rest of the world needs to conquer it with me.
4. We're discovering that we were really sent to West Virginia to be "missionaries." I live in an extremely Christian State, but only 5% of the population is Catholic. There's a lot of bias against Catholics--so I've found the Catholics here are somewhat "confused." Like they don't talk about Mary, even on her feast days.
So we end up in a lot of situations that are weird and confusing. I'm trying to just stay calm and be content to let our family's Catholic light shine quietly. (Neither my husband or I are any good at appolgetics. We keep joking "We're Carmelites, not Dominicans. We'll leave the preaching to them and stick to praying ourselves!)
5. After 3 years in Carmel, I'm finally making peace with the idea that "I'm a beginner!" I might very well die a total beginner! (I mean, all progress in the spiritual road is His alone to great right?) I used to stress out so much about "what room of the Interior Castle I was in" or how quickly I could move up into a higher state of prayer.
Now it's just so calming to think "I'm just a little beginner." Its so nice because the stuff "little beginners do" pray, try to follow the 10 commandments, attempt to cultivate the naturally 'hard' virtues in my soul--those are the same things that the Saints do at a higher level. Plus, I told my husband I no longer have any fear about conversing with someone who is super advanced on the spiritual plane. Everyone thinks the pre-school CCD class is so cute when they lisp "Jesus loves Me, this I know" in Sunday Mass. That's all I am, a spiritual three year old! With humility, I could comfortably chat with the Pope right now!