One nice thing about dogs is they force you to go outside for a walk. One un-nice thing about them is they really don’t care how cold, wet, muddy, and utterly disagreeable the weather might be.
I learned this yesterday while walking our Golden Retriever Gracie.The morning found mereluctantly trudging through the snow “walking the dog”. Born in Minnesota I’ve always taken pride in being man enough to face the cold—but honestly, what man is enthusiastic about freezing unnecessarily?
Gracie, however, thought our icy walk was the greatest thing in the world.
Watching her enthusiasm reminded me of my own childhood excitement about snow and it’s possibilities: ambushing whoever was unlucky enough to walk by; making the perfect fortress; extreme sledding; some daring combination of all three.
Snow for me today just means scraping the ice off the windshield with “the-first-scraper-like-object-I can-find-in-the-back-seat” and wearing soggy black shoes the rest of the day.
Nonetheless, as I trudged around with the dog, I couldn’t help but wonder: does enthusiasm necessarily have to wane as our natural liveliness wanes?
Thankfully, the answer is no. Enthusiasm is something much deeper; the etymological sense of the original Greek term, “en -theos,” means possessed by God. So enthusiasm for life is linked more to prayer then it is to liveliness.
This is because as our prayer life deepens and the Holy Spirit begins to possess us, the fire of God’s love burns away our apathy, drudgery, jadedness, and dullness, and makes life new with His inspirations. In this sense, Father Thomas Dubay, in his book, A Prayer Primer, is spot on when he writes that we can be, “more enthusiastic at sixty than we are at sixteen.”
Psalm 1, the inspired Word of God, states it best:
Happy the man who follows not the council of the wicked, nor walks in the way of sinners, but delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates on it day and night, he is like a tree planted near running water, and everything he does prospers.
In other words, enthusiastic—possessed by God—is the one who doesn’t look to the world to fill one’s life, but to God, dedicating time day and night to Him by making a serious effort for real contemplative prayer. That person’s life is like a tree, constantly renewed at every age, by God Himself.
The question is if I am willing to find the necessary time to make a serious effort to grow spiritually. Many feel they are simply too busy, not having the time it requires to commune with God. Prayer is seen as something to be added on when all the other important concerns of life are done. The enthusiastic approach is the opposite. Contemplative prayer is the starting point, the foundation upon which one builds and lives one’s life.
My own experience has taught me that the things in life I really want I always find the time for. The important thing here is to really desire to dedicate time daily to God, to put ourselves in contact with Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life, and to open the door of our heart to be, “utterly filled by fullness of God” Ephesians 3:19.
If you would like to go deeper in this subject, here are a few insightful books to get you on the path to keeping your enthusiasm; that is, God inside you!