Most of us know what it is to lose oomph. Age, infirmity, or just getting out of bed on the wrong side can leave us feeling tired, tetchy and lacking in zeal. It is good to know that the great saints were no different from us in that respect. St Teresa of Avila said there were times she could not swat a fly for the love of God. In the monastery we dub these periods of inertia and ennui ‘Elijah Sicknbess’. Just as Elijah lay down under a bush and wanted to die, so can we — metaphorically speaking.
By the middle of Lent, such flagging of zeal is perfectly normal and probably a good thing. It reminds us that we set out on this journey in response to God’s invitation; that it is his programme we need to follow, not our own carefully-constructed list of dos and don’ts; and that we are more in danger when we think we are making a big success of things than when we think we are failing miserably. Of course, we shouldn’t be thinking about ourselves at all, but few of us are capable of that. At least we can try to focus on what really matters: God.
If this morning you are a little bleary-eyed, wondering what is the point of going on, I hope you can take heart from this. Our goal is in sight: Easter will soon be here. It doesn’t matter whether we sprint to the end, plod on steadily or limp along with many a fall by the wayside. We just have to keep going. Elijah Sickness does not last for ever; Easter does.