Progress or growth in our spiritual lives has a lot to do with our habits and disposition. Our habits speak to the concrete ways that we put our commitments into action. Changing our habits is the first step toward integrity and alignment, in which we move away from being the kind of person who is good at making promises but then does not follow through. Many of the habits we need to adopt do take considerable effort on our part. Other habits have to do with noticing, allowing, making ourselves available to the movements of God in and around us, availing ourselves of the graces that God extends to us, and integrating them into our being. These latter habits speak to our disposition of being open to grace, open to God’s work in us, not just to doing all the things that we can and ought to do ourselves.
Attending to the work of God in us takes solitude and time. It is a relational attunement that Teresa describes as an inward turn:
One noticeably senses a gentle drawing inward, as anyone who goes through this will observe, like a hedgehog curling up or a turtle drawing into its shell.
This drawing inward does not last forever, and it does not mean that the only way to find connection with God is within ourselves. But it does suggest strongly that if we seek, in any way, to be instruments of God’s light and love, we shall need a deepening experiential knowledge of the many ways that it transforms us. We cannot teach or share what we do not know intimately. It is this growing familiarity, even intimacy with God, that Teresa encourages us to experience, so that we will truly know the tender touch of the divine hand and be healed, changed, and empowered.
How will you be drawn gently inward today?