From John Kirvan’s book, Raw Faith:
Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing make you afraid.
— St. Teresa of Avila
It’s amazing how many of us think that being anxious and worried is a sign that we are spiritual, that we are committed, that we are not like everyone else, content to live on the surface of life.
According to this school of spirituality, there is nothing like a long face and a distracted soul, worried and busied by many things to demonstrate our spiritual depth! “Loving God is very serious business. It’s enough to bring on an ulcer.”
There is also, apparently, according to this gospel of anxiety, nothing quite as spiritual as living our days in fear and trepidation, all but certain that our slightest misstep, our slightest unoccupied moment will cost us the love of God. The key to this kind of spirituality is “stay busy” because it’s all up to us.
The idea that we should just stand there in confidence while God does what only God can do, what in fact we can never do for ourselves, and what no amount of fear and anxiety can accomplish, is incomprehensible.
But then into the noisy, hassled center of our soul comes a voice of common sense, the truth of whose words we understand immediately and instinctively. “Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing make you afraid.”
It’s the voice of Teresa, but we hear another voice in another room: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, when only one thing is needed.” Or from a mountainside we hear: “…do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” And we hear an even more ancient voice that says: “Be still and see that I am God.”
Be not disturbed. Stay still. There is nothing to worry about.