Do you ever have one of those days when nothing goes right?
You sleep too late. You burn the toast. A flat tire. You say the wrong thing at the wrong time and end up hurting someone. You can’t concentrate … and you can’t figure out why.
I go through days like this every now and then. Sometimes they last for a week.
My wife, who is quick to notice and just as quick to offer the remedy, will sit me down and ask:
“Are you still praying? Are you still spending some quiet time each day? Is it time for a retreat … to reconnect with God?”
I think of this when I read our first reading from Jonah, a guy who tried his best to run away from God, only to find turbulence on the open sea.
Worse yet … that turbulence was not just for him, but for everyone around him.
When I go through “dry spells” of not reading daily scripture, not praying, not spending time in Adoration, it doesn’t take long for my peaceful coexistence with my wife and my neighbors starts to crumble.
I get irritable. Edgy. Hard to live with.
The answer to these dips into the valley of troubled souls is not to seek answers in man-made concoctions. Nor is it to continue running from God. The answer is to do a 180-degree turn and go back the other direction.
In Jonah’s case, the others on board the rocking ship intervened and tossed Jonah into the sea – a rather poetic way of sending him closer to God (but in a potentially morbid sense).
Thankfully, my wife and I do not live on a boat.
Instead of tossing me overboard, she sends me closer to God when she reminds me to stop neglecting my Christian duty to pray, to fast, to help the poor.
These things seem to be inconsequential, but the reality is, without that balance, it is difficult to have peace in one’s soul.
A soul that is only concerned about itself and its own desires is a soul that will not be at peace and cannot shine forth. Always troubled. (Ebeneezer Scrooge anyone?)
We need to constantly put ourselves last. We need to always put our Lord first, followed by others … and then ourselves.
The beautiful thing – which Jonah never really embraces (read the rest of the book) – is that when we place an emphasis on connecting with God and serving others, we truly forget about the little things that once bothered us.
Problems suddenly get solved. Headaches seem to go away. The hurdles of life – thought still present and still a challenge – continue to come, but our ability to handle them becomes much easier.
Jonah spends three days and three nights in the belly of the fish before he is spewed back out onto the shores of a troubled world.
A three-day retreat – I might suggest a parish renewal weekend, or a visit to a monastery or retreat house – might be just what you need to clear your heart and your soul … to recharge and reconnect with God.
I’d also suggest a return to daily prayer, mediation and silence. All of these are good for the soul and help us obtain the proper balance in our busy lives.
And, I might add, are far better than doing three days inside of a stinky fish.
(Reprinted from a few years ago as he author spends 3 days on the road).