Chapter 11: Achieving Peace and Acquiring Zeal for One’s Spiritual Progress
“It is He who provides us with these conflicts and He wants us to be the victors”
Yesterday, I took my visiting friend out to San Francisco to see the Six Sisters, Golden Gate Park, Cliff House, Sutro Baths, Legion of Honor, Lombard Street, Golden Gate Bridge, Palace of Fine Arts, Union Square and Grace Cathedral. The day was perfect until I returned to my parking spot on Sacramento Street to find that my car had been towed.
In this season of Advent when we are called to watch carefully for the signs of God’s presence, I failed to read the street sign warning me that my car would be towed. Needless to say, I was stressed and depressed and financially wounded as a result. The blessing in disguise was extra time to walk the Prayer Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral. In my prayerful walking, I sought spiritual consolation and insight and although the energy of the cathedral and fellow labyrinth walkers calmed my spirit, I found no lasting consolation. The rest of the day was an attempt to get my mind off the enormous fees I had to pay. And even today, frustration remains.
In this chapter, Kempis says, “It is He who provides us with these conflicts.” Although my failure to see the signs got me into the mess, I still see God somehow providing me with the conflict so as to work on me. God, who is concerned with our spiritual progress, wants us to be victors. Here, Kempis is inviting me to see this conflict, and conflicts like it, as spaces where God works on my spiritual progress. Sometimes I wonder if the spiritual progress is really worth all the frustration, humiliation and expense. But Kempis puts these things into perspective when he says, “If you only knew how much peace you can give yourself and how much joy you give to others…, I think you would show greater interest in your spiritual progress.”