Today’s find: The devil (at least for me) is in the details…
I’ve discovered something vexing over the past few days: “free” ≠ “easy”, at least not when it comes to blog publishing software tools.
In theory, I’m down with the idea that a spiritual blog would be a fruitful method of almsgiving for me this Lent.
In practice, this means stretching my digital skillset a bit – so that I can start doing what several friends and relatives have been doing for years: Carve out a parking spot for my writing on the Web. The choice of publishing tools (Blogger vs. WordPress) presented an early obstacle. Having navigated those shoals, I took the plunge – opting for the promise of “powerful” by embracing the WordPress technology. And frankly, it’s not going well: My SteadfastSpirit has been jolted by the myriad set-up options available—many with intimidating, strange-sounding names.
If you’re reading this, it means I’ve muddled my way through…humbled considerably by the recognition that my digital skillset perhaps needed a bit more stretching than at first I realized.
After spending hours over the course of three days in WordPress fits and starts, I was delighted to have an all-day commitment on Saturday—taking me out of town, to Bloomington, IL, for a Kairos Prison Ministry training session (and therefore, far enough away from my iMac to temporarily relieve any neurotic guilt about getting my blog to go “live”).
A hundred and ninety miles away from my iMac, yes. Still, I found myself right back in a technological briar patch, tangling with Beelzubul, on Day 4 of Lent.
I’d programmed the GPS unit to take me and my three Kairos companions to 1210 Fell Street—site of our meeting at Christ The King Episcopal Church. But the Garmin lady clearly was mistaken when she announced “arriving at destination”: Nothing but houses on this street—no steeples or parish halls anywhere to be seen.
We wandered about Bloomington a bit, trying to discover whether Fell Street might have both a “North” and a “South” range of addresses. (All four of us are men, so of course, we wouldn’t think of stopping to ask for directions!) Then it occurred to one of my companions to check out a devilish little detail: Could the church actually be in Normal—Bloomington’s twin city?
A few tweaks to the GPS unit, and we soon enough found our way to Christ the King. And there, within a minute or two, I encountered another profound spiritual challenge. The details are excruciatingly mind-numbing, but the essence was this: The Kairos head office was challenging us to build an effective state-wide hierarchy to lead and promote the growth of the volunteer ministry.
Alas, more devilish details: The thirty of us in the room had been drawn to the ministry by the chance to encounter Christ (in my case, while serving on retreat teams inside two different prisons since 2010). This retreat work is a significant commitment in itself: 40 hours spent in team formation meetings over the course of several months, plus fund-raising and cookie collections, not to mention the 80+ hours devoted to the actual weekend. And now, we were being told that more—much more—was needed to make the ministry thrive within the state of Illinois: More meetings, more paperwork, more documentation, more planning, more training, more discipline.
It sounded hard to me. No, verging on impossible: I’ve already served for a couple of years in such administrative functions for the ministry at Menard. I know how difficult it is to fill the seats at the table, and get the meetings organized – in part, because there is typically no “carrot” of Christic encounter in such activities. Experience tells me that I’m more likely to meet the Prince of Darkness in this type of work: In the drudgery. The rejection. The bureaucracy. The failure.
But at some point Saturday, I recognized a pattern here: How often I submit to the devil I encounter in the dreary details of this–or any other part–of my life.
I realized, too, where I had eventually wound up…after my mis-directed start…on this first Saturday of Lent: In the welcoming arms of Christ the King. Perhaps it was a bit of divine encouragement for the steadfast spirit I am hoping to allow to emerge in me over the next 40 days…