She lives a life of simplicity and order. She likes her space sparse so we’ll call her Sister Sparsicus. She follows Jesus’s teachings and has no attachments to material goods.
Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
She does. She structures her life around prayer. She wakes and reconnects to the spirit as easily as entering a waterfall and flowing with a river.
Obedience draws its meaning from the verb to listen. Focused on the Lord, her ability to listen grows deeper from consistent practice. Like sensing an earthquake before it happens, she can hear the sound of God working in our lives through her bones.
Calm and unshakable, she lives with the divine at her center, edges and flesh.
Her own room is smaller than a horse stall with only a simple cot, a chair and a desk. There are no mirrors and few personal possessions. She lives in a community of faith where they sing together and worship at regular intervals during the day when the church bells ring. She eats bread and water, vegetables and rice. On feast days, she enjoys a single cookie or jam on her bread.
Her exposure to the world limited, her single focus is prayer. Protected from the onslaught of advertising, marketing, personal promotion, social media and junk mail, her mind is tuned to a single spiritual transmitter.
She is a living reminder of where God belongs: everywhere—in our space, in our words, in our mind, in the center of our being and in our heart.
Sister Sparsicus is my fantasy self.
My reality self is more like Cozy Couch Camper, luxuriant and indulgent. I looked for a bible verse about relaxing on the couch but I couldn’t find one (leave it in the comments if you know one!).
I’m absorbed in good times, soft cushions, silliness and splurging on snacks like dark chocolate. Mmm dark chocolate. Might need to take a break for some…
I collect books, notes, photos, poems, potential craft items, memories, magazines, yarn skeins and blue striped spa socks.
I survey stuff stacked through the length of my trailer. Piles of papers make castle walls. I feel protected with stuff around me, shielded from impending pain and doom, the unknown and uncontrollable.
I am my own princess of paper and boxes.
I occasionally leave the couch. I scuff my way in fuzzy slippers to the kitchen where hot cocoa and a plateful of cookies await me.
Then it’s back to my couch kingdom. Like a kitty finding a sunny spot for a snooze, it feels good to sink in the sensual pleasures of the world. Soft couch. Dark chocolate. Friendly pets. From morning to night, I consume messages, food, flattery and social media updates.
How do I find faith in the life I live? This hairy, messy, comfort-seeking life? So far from my fantasy life of a contemplative nun.
Two sides, same coin
Do you have two sides? My husband said he has a “I want to help people” side with “Leave me alone.” Another friend said she has a homebody vs. a world traveler. Maybe yours is a workaholic vs. a dilly-dallier. A believer vs. a cynic. The logical vs. the emotional.
We can’t divorce an aspect of our personality so how do we live with it in peace? We can apply gentleness and respect to resolve the conflict of opposites. I value my nun side but spend more time couch-side.
To find reconciliation, we need to see what they have in common. Both sides of me seek contentment, surrender and faith.
Sister Sparsicus and Cozy Couch Camper don’t want God relegated to random moments or a weekly hour.
I’ve got pray intermittently down pat. No problem! Pray when it occurs to me at random times or when my prayer reminder computer alarm goes off. Not quite a monastery bell!
I will respect my desire to pray more. I’ll work on the more, and give myself a break about the constantly. It doesn’t have to be a nunnery or nothing!
I’ll ease up the critical judgment on my couch self. I’ll forgive myself for being a lazy lover of all things cozy—for I find joy and restoration in soft places with afghans and pillows.
I’ll respect the delight in experiencing the physical world: its sweetness and saltiness, its abundance of treasures.
This world points to heaven. I’ll enjoy it as such, a traveler seeing the sights while knowing I’m moving on.
How do you find integration and wholeness between opposing sides? I welcome your thoughts below!