Commitment: the continual striving toward a goal long after the excitement that called that goal into being is past.
I’m only a week into my flirtation with the discipline of praying the daily office and I am finding it somewhat…what word am I looking for…awkward? I am no less committed to the practice now than I was when I began. It is a practice that I would like to become a habit, eventually transformed into a lifestyle. At the beginning, I was blaming my waning enthusiasm on the form. I did not like the web based format suggested (Northumbria Community Daily Office). I was not alone in this. Someone else in my cohort has similar frustrations. I am still a “book” person. I like to hold a book in my hands. I prefer a newspaper to an RSS feed or web-based news. I thought I would be happier with words on a page guiding me through the process than with words on a computer screen. So…someone went and found a book version of the Northumbria Community Daily Office…no excuses!
However, I think a deeper issue for me is my own lack of discipline. The word “discipline” doesn’t even sound appealing. Ultimately, the point of this venture into this spiritual practice is that ugly little word–DISCIPLINE. It seems that all surrounding culture exhibits a great lack of it. For me, I recognize how the culture feeds my impulsive nature often manifesting itself in a desire to consume. I can Google just about any product this morning, and have it delivered to my door tomorrow. Books and web pages are readily available to provide easy answers/solutions, ultimately demanding little real change on my part. I have hundreds of channels on my TV set, a DVR that records programs for me so I can watch them on my time and terms. (It doesn’t even take discipline to set down and watch a TV program anymore.)
One of the key tasks in the first year of my Doctor of Ministry program at Fuller Seminary is some intentional self-reflection and adaptive change (more on that process later). The process to this point is exposing some of the elephants in my room. One of the unnamed elephants is my own cynicism. It manifests itself as wonderful excuses to do nothing. In terms of my faith, it has allowed me to criticize the ills I see in “the church” while abandoning my own spiritual practices and the narratives of my professed faith. Suffice to say, at this point of my life, I need to re-engage these stories and practices. Committing to praying the daily office is one step in that direction. The discipline required (which in reality is minimal) is another. However, the excitement has definitely past.