The First Step of the Spiritual Journey


The Carmelite life and spirituality is about transformation, a transformation in Christ.  The first necessary step in the journey of transformation is self-awareness.  A person needs to be self-aware of the chaos of his or her life, and how they are affected by it.  Christ is the bringer and giver of peace.  Chaos works against His peace.  Peace He wishes to give to every soul. Carmelite spirituality sees chaos as something located on the fringes of our being not at our core.  The journey from our chaos to the peace of Christ is a movement through darkness. 

Our Darkness

Darkness, for St. John of the Cross, is the place where God meets us, to heal and transform us.  However, a person could never think of leaving his or her chaos, if it something that has been normalized in her or his life.  Noise can take on a veneer of silence if suffered long enough.  Normalizing our chaos (whether inner or outer) points to the reason why self-awareness is the necessary first step of the spiritual journey.   Self-awareness works to expose the chaos we have created, making the peace of Christ possible in our lives. 

The Holy Spirit

It is important to note our journey is not taken alone.  This spiritual journey is always done with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the whisper that wakes us up to God and the wind that drives us along a path that leads us into our inner self, where Christ dwells.  St. John of the Cross points to this self-awareness in The Dark Night of the Soul where he wrote “One dark night, fired with love’s urgent longings — ah, the sheer grace! — I went out unseen, my house being now all stilled.”  The fire of love is of course the Holy Spirit dwelling in him (and in us) and is drawing him (and us) forth at the same time.  Furthermore, his words about the house point to his self-awareness and the need for him (and us) to leave the house, i.e. the fringe area of the mountain.  

Flames of Love

In order, too, take that first step of transformation, which is self-awareness, a person needs to be open to the love of the Spirit.  If you are reading this blog, I recommend that you begin by asking for the Holy Spirit to set your heart on fire with His love.  It is in the light of those flames that you can see your inner and outer world clearly, and become self-aware to the things, people, ideas, or places that need to be healed and changed in your life.  I hope that the prayer below may help you.  Know I am praying for you and may God continue to bless you!

Come Holy Spirit engulf my heart with Your flames of love, so I may begin to see myself with the eyes of Christ!


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