Hedgehogs and Tortoises

I have read that they are like a hedgehog or a tortoise withdrawing into itself; and whoever wrote that must have understood it well. These creatures, however, enter within themselves whenever they like; whereas with us it is not a question of our will–it happens only when God is pleased to grant us this favor. (Teresa of Avila: Fourth Mansions: Chapter Three)

In the Prayer of Recollection God initiates action to “gather” or “center” our souls. When He does this, He awakens our souls and absorbs us into His love. We then experience His love instead of it remaining a theological principle we observe from a distance.

Can we do something to make the Prayer of Recollection happen? Yes and no. It’s counter-productive to force spiritual experiences. When people do this they embrace illusions and competition to create “a spiritual high”. To maintain that “high” they damage others and sometimes entire institutions. They justify their actions by labeling it “spiritual” or “God’s work”. Warning sirens should sound anytime “spiritual activity” trumps character and good behavior. God does not work this way.

It’s also counter-productive to ignore the interior life. When we ignore the interior life we ultimately try to satisfy spiritual longings by chasing things that keep us from God. Remember Augustine who pursued created things but they only kept him from God: “You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.” 

I encourage you to be like the hedgehog or tortoise. Withdraw periodically from the external world, go within yourselves, be silent, and discover what God is doing. But “discover” instead of “force”. While we need to wait for God to initiate action, we can be prepared to participate.

Follow on Twitter: @Dave_Small

Contact Information: teresaofavilaturns500@gmail.com

Jesus Follower, Blogger, Public Speaker. Teresaofavilaturns500.wordpress.com

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Posted in 4th Mansions - Chapter 3

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