Creating A Life Set Apart

In our fast-paced, need-it-now culture it is easy to forget about the eternal parts of us that exist separate of all of our doing and accumulating. So distracted by the things that clamor for our attention we risk becoming spiritually numb; potentially neglecting our sixth sense altogether. We can be content to merely going through the motions. Making time for our spiritual development is a very subtle and intuitive need. It requires a different level of energy than that into which we tap ordinarily.

In my spiritual development, it sometimes feels as if my soul is the flag tied to the middle of a rope in a perpetual game of tug of war. The busyness has at times left me feeling as if I am a homing pigeon that has lost its sense of home. I can expend lots of good energy feverishly flapping my wings with no clear sense of my final destination.

Fr. Michael’s Story:

Fr. Michael is a newly ordained priest with a powerful witness and a notable charism. Young Michael grew up with an awareness of the presence of God in his life. In fact, he felt called to the priesthood from a very young age. His pursuit of personal holiness strengthened with each passing year, until he went to college.

Several philosophy courses in to his studies, everything that he had trusted in so intuitively became relative. “In the midst of this spiritual daze, I was at the confirmation of a family friend. As I was leaving the church that evening, the bishop of my diocese approached me, shook my hand and asked, “Young man, why aren’t you in the seminary?” I did not have an answer.”

“As you might guess, since I did not know him, the question caught me completely off guard. As he released my hand from his grasp he continued, “Why don’t you stop running from God?” Miraculously, roughly two weeks later I took the first step in what would become my eight years of training which culminated in me being ordained a Catholic priest.”

The dilemma:

“Today’s culture has multiplied the pressures that have us operating from one of two opposing perspectives…busyness and idleness. We have all heard that an idle mind is the devil’s playground, but I am now convinced that a busy mind and heart can also provide the evil one an equally powerful foothold. Many of the great saints addressed this in their early theological works. In fact, The Rule of St. Benedict, written in the 6th century, set out to recreate a healthy balance between work and prayer. Evidence that the tension between the two forces has long been with us.”

The space in between there and here:

“My daily disciplines spring from my own recovery. I am naturally inclined to be very involved and therefore prone to busyness. There have been times in which I have been worn flat. That’s why I love the story about Martha and Mary in the gospel of Luke. Jesus sets them apart and highlights their distinct differences. He does not discredit Martha’s busyness, only her anxiousness.”

“As a priest, I had to learn to strike the right balance between work and prayer. Since both come in extra doses given the reality of my vocation, I needed to add a third, indispensable feature to my adaptation of The Rule of St. Benedict….PLAY. Giving myself over to recreation is a very positive virtue. Over the past several years, I have found that lasting stability comes when I consistently strike the proper balance between work, prayer and play!”

What is life like now:

“When I get it right, my days are extremely life-giving. My prayer life grows more intense and vibrant. My ministry blooms and I feel as though I am co-creating it with greater vision and intention. When I play hard, as long as it is something good, healthy and truthful, I feel as though I am being re-created in important and lasting ways.”

“This is important because it confirms the the essence and intent of my recreation in the first place. It helps me to better understand why the words wholenesshealthy and holy come from the same root word. In fact, the word holy means to be set-apart. I want my life to be set apart. I want my life in Christ to draw me close and continually recreate me.”

Each of us should feel a responsibility to stay attuned to the role that are lifestyles play in promoting our own spiritual growth and wellness. In my experience, spiritual complacency can set in all too quickly. Before I know it, I can be wildly off course, distracted by having inadvertently set aside the disciplines that I know yield generous harvests within me. Fatigue from carrying too great a load in the other aspects of my life can also lead me to neglect tending to the spiritual garden that was planted inside of me by design.

It is necessary to cultivate and fertilize my soul on a daily basis. Those who are great at what they do, regardless of their vocation, don’t just practice or train when they feel like it. Instead, they adopt disciplines that they will need to win and then they adhere to them no matter what. It is no different for those of us who yearn to thrive spiritually…to live a life that is set apart.

Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying…. cause you are!

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