Thursday, January 15, 2009

From Divorce Attorney to the Spiritual Director

I don't anyone who says, "I wanna be a divorce attorney when I grow up!" My brother Jeff, who joined the family law firm and has been a practicing attorney for about thirty years, never intended to be a "divorce attorney." He handled one or high profile divorces, and there you go. News traveled fast and soon the majority of his work has become taken up with the often labor-intensive task of accompanying the disenchanted on the legal and emotional journey through their divorces and parental custody arrangements.

When he says the opposite of love is systems failure to care, I listen. As he's the one who has been there to witness the end of marriages, I think his observations are on track. The other side of passion, of love, is complete apathy and indifference. The juicy sounding word from church tradition is sloth: one of the 7 Deadly Sins. It's "unwillingness to work or exert oneself; laziness; idleness." Some of the New Testament was probably first addressed to slothful hearers and readers. As examples, think of some of the Christians described in Revelation and those targeted in Hebrews.

This is the haunting question: when do I go beyond caring to indifference? At what point do I move from life and health to the spiritual death of sloth? Can I trust that it's possible to know this for myself by myself, or do I need the support of others in this journey? Others, like spiritual guides and directors, can see what we refuse to see in ourselves. Or just cannot see. Or both.

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