Third Quarter Slump

Hey there!  How is everybody?  Hope all y’all are doing well!  It’s 88 degrees here, and the cicadas are singing!  They and their crunchy cast off shells are all over the place.  Sadie dog is so funny with them.  She’ll investigate one- very gingerly, yet intently sniffing it; then another one in the grass surprises her and she jumps backward stiff-legged like a cat.  It’s hilarious!  With that giggle, grab an ice-cold glass of sweet tea or lemonade, find a comfy spot to relax and let’s talk! 

It feels good to have time to be able to sit and write a bit.  I hope to get more consistent. In school, I always suffered from “third quarter slump”.  If a grade was going down, it was always third quarter.  Not sure why.  Lots of things have become inconsistent for me over the past six months, sort of like that slump.  Honestly, I’m just plain physically worn out.  I’ve been threatening to use August like a hibernating bear and sleep for a month.

A very wise friend in Texas keeps telling me I’m simply overwhelmed at the moment.  I hope she’s right!   There has been an awful lot going on in my life over the past year or so-  several trips overseas, buying and selling homes in different states, college, living in a hotel with Sadie for 3 months, and living with a not-quite-finished kitchen.  Actually, by mid-June I will have effectively moved 5 times in 5 months.  Hopefully I’ll be settled and rested when school restarts in the fall.

As I write this, even Sadie is letting me know she feels a bit neglected.  I miss the comfort of a good routine, the spiritual values of a life more focused on God than the temporal demands I’ve been under; I miss getting up and attending Daily Mass before I move on with my day.  I was at a college retreat near the end of Lent, and the retreat leader said something very startling, and yet very true:  “[Even] as [passionately Catholic] students we become so focused on our studies that we forget how to pray.”  I saw it immediately in my own life, and it made me long for more.

I had vaguely realized that I wasn’t praying as much or reading Scripture and good spiritual books as much.  I still heard the voice of the Lord sometimes; so I cruised along thinking it would just somehow get better on its own, but it didn’t.  The book of Hebrews puts it well in Chapter 2, verse 1: “Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.”  (NRSVCE)  How do we do this?  I hadn’t missed Church, but I knew the connection wasn’t as tight, as solid.  The writer says “drift” not “leave”.  It’s a subtle thing; it is not a conscious decision on our part.

I began by stepping off the worship team and focusing on Jesus during that retreat.  The Lord has guided me to  my spiritual director, who offered me the Sacrament of Confession at the end of our first meeting.  Great starting point!  Realizing that I’m a bit more prone to sins of neglect than commission was a sort of insight.  I don’t actively avoid prayer, I just allow myself to become too tired to focus on prayer.  That brought the inconsistency of my devotional life into sharper focus.

Many churches put out little monthly devotional booklets, and there are lots of daily devotional books available at any bookstore.  There are also online resources, and they are easy to find.  These include daily devotionals, prayer sites, Bible reading schedules, etc.  I am signed up for three e-mail sites; but I don’t always look at them.  That doesn’t help.   However, the current novena  is Christ the King;  I’m praying this one.  I’m also trying to pray at least a decade of the rosary every day to help me meditate on an event in the life of Christ on a consistent basis.

How about you?  Are you ‘missing the deeper relationship’ with the Lord?  Have the demands of daily life caused you to drift a little bit?  Maybe you don’t have a relationship with Jesus at all, but wish you did!  He wishes you did, too.  Find a pastor or priest, and sit down with them.  Open your heart, don’t be afraid.  They will be delighted to help you get closer to Jesus!  He’s the real source of life, peace, hope and joy.  All of the best things in life come from Him!  Let Him give you new joy this summer, or help you out of a third quarter slump.  You will be so glad you did.

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