The Thought that Counts

by Angela Batie

I’ve been undertaking Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises this year. This endeavor, which Karen Armstrong recently called a “crash course in mysticism” has been one of great expectation for me. I’ve been told that I would be transformed, would be seduced by prayer, and would emerge a different person than I set out.

As with so many other journeys in my life, it seems that God has something different in mind for me than what I anticipated. (You’d think I’d have figured this out by now.) Instead of regular mystical experiences, awaking each day with a great eagerness to jump into prayer, and an all-around sense of being a dramatically new, spiritually aware (really, almost saintly) person, I have found this to be more of an exercise in fidelity, commitment, and openness. In my efforts to do things “right,” I’ve struggled with sensations of dryness or hollowness in my prayer. Thank goodness for weekly spiritual direction, where my wise and wonderful guide has helped me identify how those feelings are not of God. Instead, God honors my intentions and deep desire to know God more intimately, even when I don’t feel like I’m succeeding.

For God, the thought counts. God looks beyond my failings and honors the truest desires of my heart. Thank God!

In prayer, it occurred to me that maybe this applies to this Church of ours. So many of us in From the Pews in the Back seemed to be asking the question, “Why do I stay?” as we grapple with the things about our tradition that don’t seem to make sense or are hard to swallow. I’ve been wondering what it would mean for me to look beyond the ways I see the failings of our Church and instead try to honor the deeper desire of the Church: to follow God, to preach the Good News, to serve the poor. If God can give me the benefit of a doubt, perhaps I can try to see our Church as what is aspires to be rather than how it falls short. Maybe I can try to see the Church for its deepest desires and truest intentions, see it for how it longs to be instead of how it is.

Angela Batie is a campus minister and adjunct theology instructor at Saint Louis University. She found a cobweb on her nearly-new elliptical machine a few weeks ago. The cobweb is still there, but she remains cautiously optimistic that she can maintain this spiritual fitness regimen.

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One Response

  1. […] us together. However, in places like this, I am reminded of the deeper desire of the church that Angela Batie wrote about just a couple weeks ago. I am reminded of what could […]

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