Here's the truth. In the beginning of any new practice, you will encounter resistance. You'll encounter your own resistance and the world's resistance and even the devil's resistance.
Until something is a habit, it often feels too new, unsafe, something that you could fail at. Even after it is a habit, there are often reasons to put it off, or if you get out of habit due to sickness or sadness or worry, it can take a lot of bravery to restart.
-Imagine that you want to begin a practice of hospitality in your life. You dream of it, you're inspired by someone you know or have read about. You dream of weekly meetings of dozens of people in your home, all of them eating and happy and enjoying life. In your preparations, you begin to get a little worried. Where will you put everyone? Do you really have energy for this? Aren't you the most awkward person the world has ever known? What on earth will you say?
There is always a simple answer. The only thing people want from your hospitality is to feel welcome. Invite one person into your home and make her welcome. Feed her tea or feed her dinner. Do it with love, do it regularly, and when you feel like it's a simple thing, make your circle wider.
-Imagine that you want to begin a practice of Lectio Divina. You think your circle of friends will really benefit from it, and when you invite people, they express excitement, but don't show up at your early morning circle. They slept in. After one or two times, you go back to sleeping in as well.
Keep getting up. Make one verse the song in your heart that sings all day long. Invite one other person who you know will come. When your practice begins to transform your days, let everyone know. Don't stop waking up with this song in your heart.
-Imagine that you want to begin a practice of deep prayer. You try but it seems that you are "troubling deaf heaven with your bootless cries."* You feel dry, you feel old, you begin to question this practice of prayer. Why ask God for anything if he knows everything already, you wonder. Why talk? You begin to grudge any words, you begin to be stubborn and silent.
Ahhh, try something new. Write your prayers in tiny letters on long sheets of paper, sing your prayers, paint them into canvases, keep a prayer journal, look up old Orthodox prayers and pray them, pray the Psalms.** This miraculous communication is never unheard! Don't give up. Don't turn to entertainment. Don't let the struggle quench you.
Life changes quickly and without warning. In our community we've had to learn to be flexible. The way we do things these days is we take a quick look at who we have with us and decide on what we'll do. We have three people who like to cook? Very well, we'll have an open lunch twice a week, to give a break to one person every week. We have a musician with a loud voice? Cool, we'll have worship circles on the beach. Each season demands its own practices, and we've become skilled at figuring out what we have the power to do. These are some of the most valuable times I've ever had, singing together, eating together.
I'll tell you a secret. I meet resistance every. single. time. Every time I'm cooking, or decorating, or getting ready for an evening on the beach, I run into it. I find myself wanting to pick fights with my husband, or run away, or go to sleep for a day. And I know now, after many years, that this is part of doing things that are hard and important. I have learned to grit my teeth, ask God for help, and go on with it. I know that the resistance only lasts up until I'm actually at the beginning whatever it is we've decided to do. It hasn't won, and I relax into enjoying the time with friends-- meditating, sharing life, singing, enjoying food.
I know that you can, too.
*Shakespeare Sonnet 29
**I have prayed in all of these ways.