We have been part of a long-distance relationship even if we don’t think of it that way. I don’t just mean those of a romantic sense, though those are the most obvious examples. Distance can do one of two things to any type of relationship: it can numb you or it can make you yearn for more.
Sure, I can go ahead and start talking about how this has played out in my own personal romantic relationships, but in an effort to avoid turning this into a diary entry, I’m going to focus on something else – my spiritual relationship.
Attempting to label the status of this relationship is difficult. On Facebook, this would probably say “complicated,” because, in many respects, I have experienced numbness and yearning in the last few years. High school represented a climactic period of time where I developed a strong and central understanding of my faith, what I believed, and how that played out in my day-to-day life.
This last part proved especially crucial because, without it, I don’t think I’d ever get the spiritual fulfillment and calm that allowed me to navigate the turbulence of adolescence. I attended Marquette University High School, an all-boys Jesuit high school, and it would be foolish for me not to acknowledge how much that helped to make that all possible. Without it, I would be hard-pressed to see the same effect. Community support can and does have a significant impact upon ingraining one’s faith into daily life.
The years since high school have been a starkly different experience. I’m not going to lie – incorporating my faith into my daily life has been significantly more difficult when that community isn’t around you. Harvard, like most every non-religious collegiate environment, proved a setting that simply didn’t facilitate this. Pretty quickly, the crazy, busy nature of college overwhelms you. My faith life simply got deprioritized and I didn’t feel any strong desire to fix it.
I thought that, after graduation, I’d have the time to rekindle and reconnect with my faith; truth be told, it’s been almost a year and reestablishing that relationship has been every bit as hard as before.
Distance, as I realized, isn’t just about physical space but it’s also about time. It’s been years since I remembered how prayer and going to Mass and everything in between were just a given in my day-to-day life. Hoping that I could, suddenly, shift back to that is unrealistic and I’d have to relearn how to make this relationship work.
You may conclude that I have simply continued to feel numb, almost indifferent at this point, but I’m grateful to say the opposite has happened. I yearn to reestablish my spirituality, even if how that shows up in my life is and has been different.
For me, it has started with small things, like taking Lenten sacrifices seriously, or saying a prayer before I go to bed. It doesn’t sound like much and it sounds like I could do more; I agree with that. But I am reminded of one of the central teachings of Jesuit tradition – finding God in all things. Even now, that provides me with that fulfillment and calm that allows me to push forward.
I strive to find God in all things, especially those that seem unrelated to the practice of my faith, because this is what pushes me to work on this long-distance relationship with my faith, and this is what allows me to believe my faith isn’t something that will fall victim to indifference.