Let It Be
It is his purpose, hidden in the cloud of all that happens to you in the present moment, that you must rely.
--Jean-Pierre de Causade
For me, writing is a spiritual discipline, although it took me years to realize it. Once you learn you can string words together in a pleasing manner, you are tempted to show off. We all know of writers who can dazzle us with their words but have nothing to say. "Good prose is like a window pane," wrote George Orwell, one of the great prose stylists in the English language. Far from calling attention to themselves, a writer's words must become transparent, which means the writer also becomes transparent. Inevitably, there is a test of wills between the writer and his muse. He must ultimately forsake all claim to the words that are the core of his identity as a writer. In doing so, he finds himself more an amanuensis than an author. Yet he is astonished to discover the words that flow from his pen are now, more than ever, his own.
Every spiritual discipline comes down to a similar test of wills. But it is not simply a matter of surrendering to God's will, since surrendering to God's will is never simple. The decision to surrender, even if it were possible to do so, is no less an act of will than any other, and merely perpetuates the illusion that there is a personal will opposed to God's will. We pray for direction in life, but in reality we are on the path we are on, whatever we choose to call it. We may tell ourselves we will go our own way, flouting God's will. But if God allows us to go our own way, that is no less God's will than had we gone in another direction; otherwise, it could not have happened. And had we gone in the direction we believed God intended for us, is that not a decision we arrived at of our own free will? Either way, God's will is aligned with our own, whether we feel conflicted about it or not.
In reality, there is only one will. This might appear to simplify matters, but it also raises some thorny issues. For example, is it God's will that criminals act contrary to God's law? The fact is that criminals do act contrary to God's law, just as the police act to put them in jail. Does a fox thank God that he has caught a rabbit, leaving the rabbit to wonder why God has abandoned him? The fox chases the rabbit because he is hungry; the rabbit runs away because he doesn't want to be eaten. One or another will prevail; that is all. God's will be done, amen.
Most of us are willful creatures who, like small children, must be dragged kicking and screaming through life. Everywhere we turn we find our desires frustrated by some will more powerful than our own. Eventually we may find wisdom in submitting to a higher authority. In doing so we discover that our will and God's will are aligned, and all distinction between the two dissolves. That is when we realize that we do indeed have dominion over God's creation.