Thou alone knowest what are my true needs.
One of my friends has a home organization program on her computer. It helps keep bills in order, reminds her of special dates, and has several cleaning schedules designed to keep her home in good shape. The feature she likes best is the grocery list – just enter the things in your cupboard and fridge and it creates a permanent list. Rather than creating a new list every week, she just checks the items on the list as she uses them. No more wondering about what’s in the cupboard, no more ending up with five boxes of pasta and no tortillas. There’s even a section for special items, the once-a-year or just-giving-it-a-try oddities that come as cupboard guests but don’t stay long. Grocery shopping without the guesswork, requiring less time and thought while guaranteeing a well stocked pantry.
There are grocery program equivalents for faith life, listing the usual staples: Bible reading, prayer, daily devotional exercises, and directions for seasonal practices. They provide a solid structure, requiring only adherence to the proscribed schedule. When the Bible book has been read, put a check on the list and pick up another. During Lent, take the Alleluias out of the liturgy. History, theology, spiritual practice, and Bible studies of good quality available in a convenient list. Prayerfully eaten, they help foster and sustain faith.
The lists we create for ourselves and others are well-meaning conjectures, things that have worked in times and for peoples past. These are effective only with the opposite approach than that of the grocery program: they are a doorway to more time and intention, not a convenience that excuses me from them. And the deepest truth: they require God’s living presence. While I may know what’s missing from my cupboards, I can’t see what’s missing in my heart and soul. God alone has that vision. If I don’t realize this, I could spend my life shopping for things that will never nourish.