Written by Dan Miller
Have you ever asked for, prayed for, or just wanted something?
You know exactly what you want—color, size, action, and shape, but the HOLY SPIRIT plays a prank on you!
The wife gave me a mandate. I needed to order a custom-made ring for our 50th wedding anniversary as a gift from her.
So, I researched, reflected on designs, and interviewed jewelry artists. I had pages of examples. The decision was made on the jeweler and design and a deposit was made.
What could go wrong?
The design featured a 5-circuit labyrinth around a center diamond. It represents a holy pilgrimage to the heart of God. The labyrinth is my spiritual journey with the diamond symbolizing the Divine (a model from Theresa of Avila’s THE INTERIOR CASTLE).
When at last the ring arrived, it fit perfectly. And it clearly stood for my spiritual journey ‘Home’ to the heart of God.
When I Asked for a Labyrinth, I Got a Maze
But that night with careful examination, I realized my custom-made ring featured a MAZE, not a labyrinth as I requested!
The difference between mazes and labyrinths is that labyrinths have a single continuous path that leads to the center, and as long as you keep going forward, you will get to the center. Mazes have multiple paths which branch off and will not necessarily lead to the center.
I was dismayed, disappointed, and despondent. I had dropped a good bit of coin for this gold, custom-designed “perfect” gift to myself. I certainly couldn’t say anything to my wife.
Where had I messed up with her gift to me? I gave clear, detailed examples of a labyrinth to the artist.
Over the weekend, I pondered a question often proffered to those under Spiritual Direction:
“What could the Holy Spirit be trying to say to you?”
I began to chuckle. This prank of the Holy Spirit is speaking LOUDLY to me.
My Life Story Is a Maze
My life story is a maze
many false starts,
blind alleys, and
the bridge is out!
The road is often narrow
The road is full of potholes.
The safety of this road is frequently questionable.
The Holy Spirit is saying when I am still and listen—
life is not a simple walk.
Life is not straight, going from point A to point B. Doing the ‘Christian thing’ often comes with a cost to self.
How many times has my ego started me on a ‘good’ task only to find out it is not wanted, needed, or appreciated?
What can this prank teach me?
So, what is the prank from the Holy Spirit saying to me?
Though I first wanted to blame the artist or the foundry for misinterpreting my order, I now understand the Holy Spirit’s prank. He calls me to task for my ego wanting to memorialize my life as an angelic path to God.
In my soul, I know that I am imperfect. I am, however, forgiven.
I take great comfort in the prayers of Thomas Merton, a monk after WWII at the Abbey of Gethsemane near Bardstown, KY
Merton writes that God understands our hearts. Even when we think we think we are doing his will, though it may not be, he accepts our mistaken steps, our failures, and our shortcomings.
The Divine continues to find delight in our efforts as feeble and misdirected as they might be to do His will.
The Importance of Knowing Myself for Spiritual Growth
I give credit to my Spiritual Directors for their effort to prepare me to work to balance my ego and soul. The better I understand myself the more likely I am to choose the wiser route (thereby avoiding the Holy Spirit needing to prank me).
I need accountability, spiritual direction, and other avenues such as Cursillo to keep me focused. These ongoing efforts better equip me to meet novel issues that continue to pop up in my life.
Knowing my personality through the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs or other such profiles (there are over 2000 such instruments) cues me to my strengths and my weaknesses. Through the corporate church, I am better able to be stretched into a more loving, compassionate Christian.
My prayer is to continue moving toward the Divine though the road is difficult and I misread the road signs (Dare I mention my ego overriding my soul?).
The Holy Spirit is the part of the Godhead given to us for a daily walk that brings delight to God.
Other Personality Resources:
Abbey of Gethsemane
Other Recommend Resources for Spiritual Direction:
1 from Richard Foster
2 from Roger Owens
3 from The Rev Mary Catherine Akamatsu