Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Idle/Idol Time

By Mary Ann Hughes
Mary Ann Hughes

Have you ever been in a desert and had no water?

Have you ever been in a spiritual desert without water? That’s just as bad, I think.

A year ago, I was having lunch with my spiritual director. I told her that things just weren’t right and that I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong.

She’s a great listener, and she’s also a great diagnostician. She let me talk a little longer, and then she proclaimed, “I think you are having a desert experience.”

Well, of course, no one wants to hear that. As I let her words sink in, I knew that she was right.

She told me that I needed hydration, and she suggested that I head to the familiar and beloved words of Psalm 23. She told me to focus on the words, “to still waters He leads me; He restores my soul.”

When she suggested that I needed more Divine hydration in my life, I knew that meant a larger commitment of my time. But how? How could I do that?

I heard someone talk recently about social media; he admitted that he used Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Shortly after he made the decision to leave them all, he realized that he had gained four — four — hours in his day.

He asked us what we do with our idle time.

As I sat and listened, I thought, “It’s not idle time. It’s really ‘idol’ time.” And I knew in my heart that I could find plenty of time in my day to enhance my spiritual life.

It’s been quite a journey since my spiritual director and I talked about my desert experience.

I’ve tried to add more liquid to my prayer life, and it has made all the difference.

She reminded me that in John 7, Jesus exclaims, “Let anyone who thirsts come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture says, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.’”

The words in Isaiah 58:11 echo those thoughts: “Then the Lord will guide you always and satisfy your thirst in parched places, will give strength to your bones, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a flowing spring whose waters never fail.”

Desert experiences happen. I wish we could stave them off before they begin, but we can’t.

I have learned that we can move out of them with prayer. And as Catholics our prayer choices are wide and varied: Eucharistic adoration, centering prayer, the rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Daily Examen created by St. Ignatius. The Eucharist. The Old and New Testaments.

In I Thessalonians 5 St. Paul encourages us to “pray without ceasing.”

That doesn’t just happen. I think we must pray and ask to become prayerful.

Adding Divine hydration to our daily lives makes them wonderful, and I’m learning how to do that — thanks to my spiritual director.