Growing in the Spiritual Desert

by Thomas A. Stobie, S.F.O.


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Read and pause often to think about what is mentioned as it applies to your life.

Meditation on Growing in the Desert

My Soul journeys towards God sometimes travelling in a desert where I can not sense God.

Let us define what is the desert experience of the soul.

When a soul experiences a time period where it can not sense God or the condolences of God, it is said to be undergoing a desert experience. This is also known as a dry period or a period of dryness.

During periods of dryness, we do not feel the presence of God and at times wonder if he has left us alone to ourselves. It is during these times that God grants us special graces to help us to grow spiritually while always being with us, but unnoticed.

Some desert experiences have oasises, where we do sense God and feel his love of us for a short period within a larger desert experience. These oasises help us not to lose heart, prehaps see some of the growth that we have experienced during a desert journey, and rejuvenate us to continue on the journey. Mass or receipt of the Holy Eucharist often serves as an oasis for desert experiences.

My Soul is the Thirsting for the Living God.

Let us consider how we can grow during these desert times.

Often we do not appreciate what we have while we have it. To gain an proper appreciation we often have to lose that for which we should value and be thankful. (See the meditation Thanking God for Everyday Things for an example of this applied to the physical world.) This can be very true with the spiritual as well.

Sometimes we value the consolations more than we value God. At these times, our lives are disordered and we become addicts seeking the joys of consolation rather than God Himself. Dryness helps us to refocus ourselves weaning ourselves from the addiction towards condolences while strengthening our love for and faith in God.

Is my suffering united to the redemptive suffering of Jesus? The suffering is experienced during dryness can be united to the redemptive suffering of Jesus and offered up for the good of the world in attonement for our sins. When we offer it up, we transform it from being merely suffering to holy sacrifices for God.

To love is a decision that we all face. Love is not based on what we receive but rather on what we desire for others, the best for them. To strengthen our love, we need to choose to love without having to receive in return. Dryness helps us by allowing us to love God without feeling that we are receiving in return from God. It helps us separate love from our feelings, becoming a true act of our souls and wills.

Having a desire to grow spiritually is important during desert experiences. We must not stop our spiritual lifes due to lack of getting something out of it (i.e. condolences), but endeavor to grow spiritual even if we do not have the special warmth of past experiences.

My Soul longs for the Living God. May desert experiences help my Soul to become more like God, growing in faith, hope, and love, always trusting in God and His love of us.

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Prayer of Trusting God during Periods of Dryness

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O Most Loving God,

Thank You for all that You do for me, whether I see it or not.

Grant me a deep thirst for You Lord in my soul, driving me to seek a fuller union with You.

I give You my sufferings united in the redemptive suffering of Jesus for my own good and the good of the World in attonement for my sins and those of the whole world. May my life witness Your love to all those around me.

Give me the grace never to lose faith in you, trusting in You to always satisfy my needs and be with me.

Provide oasises on my journey to rejuvenate me during the journey, brief periods where I do feel your condolences and graces refreshing me for further journeying.

Grant me, dear Lord, that during desert experiences, I may grow in faith, hope, and love while trusting in Your infinite love for me.

Amen.

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Meditation by Thomas A. Stobie, SFO 2002. Permission granted to copy for personal use.


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Last Modified 6 Nov 2008.