What hope can we have of being able to rest in other people’s homes if we cannot rest in our own? For none of our friends and relatives are as near to us as our faculties, with which we have always to live, whether we like it or not, and yet our faculties seem to be making war upon us, as if they were resentful of the war made upon them by our vices. (Teresa of Avila: Second Mansions)
I once replaced the treads of the interior steps of our home. Anything with tools stretches me so we are talking about a major event (put the emergency room on notice). I asked advice from a contractor friend and started my project. I worked my way up the steps. I pounded up the old tread with my hammer. I measured carefully and cut a new tread. Then I nailed down the new tread. I repeated this process 13 times. My friend asked me how it went. I said, “Great, but I learned a valuable lesson — always put the bottom tread in last.” He asked, “Why?” (I figured he would know stuff like this since he’s a contractor). I said, “Halfway up the steps I bumped my hammer. It fell behind the steps and slid to the bottom. I tried everything I could think of to get it out. I finally bought another hammer.” He said, “Why didn’t you just pound up the bottom tread and get it?” I responded “Because, I didn’t have a hammer.”
I needed a hammer to get my hammer back. When we develop damaging vices, we also damage the tools we need to get rid of those vices. Teresa calls these tools “faculties” (e.g. reason, faith, memory, will, and understanding). She says, “our faculties seem to be making war upon us, as if they were resentful of the war made upon them by our vices.” We create an internal war. Our vices war against our faculties; our damaged faculties war against us. This internal war also results in collateral damage to our relationships and leadership skills.
While we falter in our spiritual walk, a spiritual step backwards can become a spiritual step forward when we see our condition and it leads us to “recollection”. God will help us center ourselves and heal our faculties. I encourage you to take some time for solitude and reenter the Interior Castle. It’s time to get your hammer back.
For more information on faculties click here.
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