It feels like the whole Notre Dame campus is under construction in these summer days. Literally every building I live and work in—Moreau Seminary, Corby Hall, and now Dillon Hall—is surrounded to some extent with scaffolding and interrupted by busy workers. It is noisy, it is dusty, it is distracting, and most of all, it is frustrating.
What has been the most frustrating is that my usual routines and my usual routes to and from are often blocked. I feel like it is hard to get steady, and that can lead me to feel unsettled. Perhaps there is literal construction going on where you live or work, or maybe on the roads that go between, and you, too, have experienced the frustration of the interruption of ongoing construction.
I think this can be a good metaphor for certain seasons of the spiritual life, however, as well. I think that in some way most of us feel that I myself am “under construction” some or most of the time—maybe I want to get a better and more regular pattern of prayer, maybe I want to take things to the next level (whatever I think that means), maybe I am still working on this or that sin or temptation in my life—and I think “once this ‘project’ is finally finished, THEN I will be able to have the relationship I really want with God."
That is a trap. In Indiana there is a joke that we have three seasons: Winter, Still Winter, and Road Construction. That happens every year, it is a cycle, maybe a frustrating cycle, but it is ultimately a healthy cycle because it means things are constantly being renewed. It has also been said that “there is no treading water in the spiritual life; if you aren’t moving forward, you are sinking.” Thanks be to God that I am always under construction. Thanks be to God that His grace is always at work in me, drawing and inviting me into ever greater union with Him.
We cannot wait until all the projects are done before we begin in earnest our relationship with God. He is not at the end of the road or waiting to move in once the building is finished. God is there right now, not only as the destination but even as the present companion on the journey. Let the distractions and the detours and the frustrations be reminders to pray, moments to grow in trust and patience, and not let them become delays before we come to Him with our hopes and needs.
Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC, is the Associate Director of the Office of Vocations for the U.S. Province of Priests and Brothers. He was ordained in 2013 and currently resides in Dillon Hall, on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.