Monday, January 2, 2012

The Wilderness of the Restless Heart

"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."
Confessions St. Augustine, Book 1, Chapter 1

The first time I read that quote I thought, "Oh my gosh!  That's it!  That is exactly what it feels like."  I am always comforted when I find out the saints were not always saints; it's nice to know that they struggled too.  

Today's Gospel is about the priests and Levities interrogating John the Baptist.  "Are you the Christ? Are you Elijah? Are you the Prophet?" No, no, and no.  John is the one who cries out in the wilderness, "Make straight the way of the Lord."  I started thinking about the exact definition of "wilderness" and one of the meanings is: inhospitable region. 
This reminded me of something I read last night in Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel:

      Through Mary's fiat, we glimpse one of the primary lessons of discipleship, a lesson it      
      takes a lifetime to learn: we are not in charge of our lives - God is in charge of our lives.  
      To know that is to be liberated in the truest sense of human freedom.  To know that is to 
      be set free from the restlessness that besets every human heart in every age. (Wiegel   

What an inhospitable place is a restless human heart!  Nothing can take root for very long - not happiness, not commitment, not fidelity, not peace.  If I am always looking around the corner for what might be the next thing (or person) that will finally make me happy, then I am never happy.  I will never be at peace.  I'm sure it's said of every generation, but it seems like our restlessness keeps increasing.  Hooking up and divorce rates are two examples of restlessness.

The only way to solve the restlessness is found in a moronic act (at least according to popular culture): turn your life over to God completely.  COMPLETELY - no holding little bits back here and there, or telling God how it's supposed to be, or thinking you know better than God.  Each time I resign a little more of myself, God moves in and the wilderness is replaced by an oasis of peace.   

Thank God I have a lifetime to figure this out!

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