Escaping from God for a “Spiritual Life”?

So two different books I’ve been reading lately seem to be calling me out for something I’ve been guilty of many times – that of having an impurity of heart at times in striving for a good thing – “the spiritual life” – but doing so to escape from other duties, seeing those as “wasting time”, whereas the true encounter with God happens right now, in exactly your duty of the present moment.

“There are many people in the world who cultivate a curious state which they call “the spiritual life.” They often complain that they have very little time to devote to the “spiritual life.” The only time that they do not regard as wasted it time they can devote to pious exercises: praying, reading, meditations, and visiting the church. All the time spent earning a living, cleaning the home, caring for the children, making and mending clothes, cooking, and all the other manifold duties and responsibilities, is regarded as wasted. Yet it is really through ordinary human life and the things of every hour of every day that union with God comes about” (Houselander, Reed of God, 26).

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“There can be so much escapism in our striving for a “spiritual life”. We often flee from the concrete, apparently banal reality that is filled with God’s presence to an artificial existence that corresponds with our own ideas of piety and holiness but where God is not present. As long as we want to decide for ourselves where we will find God, we need not fear that we shall meet him! We will meet only ourselves, a touched-up version of ourselves. Genuine spirituality begins when we prepare to die. Could there be a quicker way to die than to let God form our lives from moment to moment and continually to consent to his action?” (Stinissen, Into Your Hands Father, 24)

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