Are you feeling a bit weary, lethargic and out of sorts at the moment? Lockdown, lack of access to the sacraments, decreased opportunities to gather face-to-face and being out of normal spiritual routines can leave us feeling flat and in what I’d describe as a bit of a spiritual funk that feels hard to shake off.
If that’s you, too, here’s some things that may be helpful in reconnecting with the deepest part of your being:
- Hit refresh
One of the best tips I've heard for the spiritual life is: “Pray as you can.” It means not comparing to how others pray, or how you normally pray, or would like to pray, but rather really listening to the yearning of your heart and allowing God to meet you there. This may be a time where your usual means of prayer might need to adapt. If you’re finding it hard to engage with your usual ways of praying, maybe it’s time to seek God in nature, in silence and stillness, in art or in some kind of movement, like dance or walking. If your whole life is currently online, maybe your prayer time needs to be that one refreshing place where you’re not on a screen. Buy a new spiritual book or journal, create a new prayer space inside or develop a new prayer routine that suits your life at this time. The secret in all of this is that a bit of a spiritual freshen up will also attune you more to the Spirit, increase your desire for prayer and maybe even return you to your usual routines once you’re ready to do so.
- Invite Jesus into the funk
Sometimes we can become so intent on praying well that we forget to bring what’s bothering us or bringing us down to the Lord. It’s like having a big elephant in our spiritual room that we need to keep walking around and avoiding. Instead, clear the space by speaking to Jesus about whatever is weighing heavily on your heart or keeping you from peace. It’s likely that this will help immensely in opening your capacity the listen to and feel listened to by the Lord.
- Repent and forgive
If I could hazard a guess at where some of our spiritual funk is coming from, I would wonder if it’s being away from the sacrament of reconciliation. While nothing can replace the in-person nature of the sacraments (the reason why you can’t Zoom a priest for confession) I think that the absence of this sacrament can highlight for us other ways of repenting from our sin, seeking God’s forgiveness and consciously forgiving ourselves and others for the shortcomings we experience. Perhaps this is a time to take more seriously a daily examination of conscience as we prepare for online Mass, or as we complete our examen at the end of each day. Rather than bottling up daily resentments, hurts and weaknesses, let’s bring them to the Lord in honesty and truth on a regular basis.
- Pray with your community
It’s no secret that this is a time when we really can benefit spiritually from the presence and support of others. I’ve noticed a spiritual shift in me just from tuning into daily online Mass and hearing a good preaching from a priest who has really entered into the Scriptures and has a heart for the people. I also think this is a time to ask for the help that we might need from brothers and sisters around us, and particularly in spiritual support through prayer. One option could be to message 10 friends with a specific prayer intention. Another might be being brave enough to ask someone to pray with you over the phone or online. We offer this ministry as sisters weekly, and I received ministry in this way recently, and felt my spirit was much lighter for unburdening myself from the things I was carrying, including my areas of sin and weakness. Lean on those in your community or register for a short session of individual prayer ministry online at our Online Prayer Bench: https://www.trybooking.com/
- Know when it’s time to reach out
Sometimes it’s true to say that there’s more operating within us than just a season of spiritual desolation or state of funk. Extended periods of lethargy, feeling down or teary, feeling overwhelmed or stressed should be taken seriously and the best way to get an objective take on this is to see a GP and/or access the many mental health resources being rolled out in the pandemic. We’re integrated people, and our spiritual health is affected by our physical, mental and emotional health, so when one of these is out of whack, it is going to naturally impact on us as a whole. It’s a good thing to get whatever help we need when we need it so that we can be as healthy as possible and give our bodies and souls everything they need to truly thrive and give glory to God.