Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Making Decisions - Celibacy

How's that for a title to grab your attention? I expect I now have a number of people intruiged, some concerned, wondering whether I'm considering the pursuit of a celibate life. Oh well! :)

The truth is I've not been blogging so much recently because I've had a lot on my mind, and when that happens I find it hard to focus on one thing or other. My brain goes into overload trying to balance out a million variables. I think I notice a pattern - there are times when I can write and write and write, and then I come to a place where I just go quiet. I might have a number of pieces unfinished, but I begin to need time to think, and to reflect. I'm not quite so sure how the pattern works and what other things may be involved as this is the first time I've really paid attention to it. I do know I can get incredibly frustrated with myself. It feels as though I go from focused and energetic simplicity to a complicated balancing act, where progress slows to a crawl. Whenever the latter comes on, I immediately add to it by trying to figure out what's wrong and solve it so I can get back to simple again, but I'm wondering now whether this isn't just a pattern of life.

Whatever the case, I'm in the middle of complicated and overloaded right now, so my apologies for the lack of writing, especially to Michelle, to whom I owe some answers for a Q&A. I haven't forgotten, it's just everytime I go to it, nothing seems to come of it. Perhaps I just need to learn to focus more, to set my mind to something and get it done instead of waiting for inspiration or confirmation on the task.

What I have been doing is reading bits and pieces here and there and so I'll throw a few links out. Last week I came across a news piece about a monk who was murdered. Brother Roger of the Taize community in Southern France was killed. He was the founder of the groups back in 1940 and the focus of the community is upon unity within the Church. There are some interesting pieces on the website about worship and meditation so take a look. Hopefully I will at some point blog some thoughts of mine on the subject of worship within church practise.

Now and again I stop by the My Utmost For His Highest website to read one of Chambers' devotional. Most are aware of the devotional classic, but for those of you who are not, or who are not aware of it's online incarnation, check it out here. Last week I found this day's offering pertinent and clarifying.

Now, as to the subject of celibacy I have of late been considering the subject of marriage. It might interest some of you to learn that up until I was about 19 I didn't have much of a desire for marriage nor did I think I would get married. I could see myself quite satisfied - in fact, most satisfied - remaining single and serving God. After that time, my position on marriage changed and I opened up to the possibility. For the past two or three years I have been completley open to marriage, learning much and seeing the wonderful design and work of God within marriage. However, for me it is not (yet?) a forgone conclusion. I can still see myself as living life without marrying and in being satisfied with such. I know most don't relate to that. It's my experience that for the majority marriage is a dream and goal from youth and something they can't imagine going without. That's not the case for me though. Marriage was never a lifelong dream, not that I despised it, it just never interested me and I didn't feel as though I needed it. In some ways I still don't. So I find myself in a place now where I am considering it, and can see so many of the joys it brings along with the complications, but it is also a place where I'm curious to know how those who chose celibacy came to that decision. I'm curious to know if they were people who felt happy to marry, who had the option, but who decided to go without it, or perhaps, to go with another option.

In Christian circles so much is spoken about finding the right person - the 'one' person whom God has for you - the forgone conclusion, destiny, your 'life which is waiting to happen'. Other sides will emphasise less the mysterious, spiritual quest for the 'one' and more the wisdom of a good decisions - a wise choice, and I suppose what I'm curious about is that idea of choice. How much of such big decisions is a matter of the revelation of divine will and how much is a matter of making a free choice?

So it is I've been taking a look around for people and places that might be able to offer me their experience in making that decision. Searching the subject of celibacy to try to gain a greater understanding of it, beyond the cliches that are so often fired off. One gentleman of the Order of Saint Benedict pointed me in this direction. That article offers an interesting perspective, focusing less upon the negatives of celibacy - 'going without' - and more on the positives - seeking to love all equally, giving oneself to all people, being equally available to them, and most available to God.

Another recommended website makes this statement in answering the questions of an inquirer:

"...if you get interested in a certain girl more than others you will find yourself declining invitations so as to be more with her. If Christ may be calling you to be celibate you will find yourself having to decline other invitations, because of where your heart is. That is the core of celibacy."
I'm not sure where all this is going. Only a few weeks ago I was away in San Diego on vacation and although the time off was fun, I was hoping for something more - for more free time to think, to pray and to write. I think perhaps that was a specific need and remains unmet, because I still have a desire right now to get away from everything and to think. Of course, I often get the desire to just get away from everything. I value the open, the space, and the ability to take time alone.

Still, upon my discovery of an OSB retreat house near to Tucson, the desire is quite strong to take some days and spend them away from everything.

Finding God's will can be tricky at times, and perhaps trickier still is the art of making decisions - the balance between seeking that which God desires and choosing things for oneself. Still, He is faithful, in the end He is able to work in spite of myself - and that helps me breathe!

God bless.