"Longing is our spiritual lot," notes Ronald Rolheiser, a specialist in spirituality and systematic theology who writes a regular column for the Catholic Herald. He is the author of The Holy Longing: The Search for a Chistian Spirituality, The Shattered Lantern: Rediscovering a Felt Presence of God, Against an Infinite Horizon: The Finger of God in Our Everyday Lives, and The Restless Heart: Finding Our Spiritual Home in Times of Loneliness. He claims that the restless aching within us and our lack of ease are signals of the spiritual life. "What we do with the eros inside us, be it heroic or perverse, is our spiritual life." Sadly enough, far too many Christian believers identify passion with hedonism and immorality. This Canadian author is vehement in his contention that "our erotic impulses are God's lure in us. They are our spirit!"
Rolheiser lets light in from many different directions as he spells out the different facets of yearning in essays on friendship, love, sex, romance, community, patience and chastity, guilt and obsessions. Whether it is mystics speaking of the divine within, philosophers reflecting on the soul, or Shakespeare writing about immortal longings, all are intrigued with the human passion that drives us to dream, to create, to reach out in love, and to draw closer to God. There are many other themes covered on these pages, and we will just allude to a few.
Rolheiser states that there are three key questions to ask ourselves when we are evaluating spiritual health: "Do I pray every day? Am I involved with the struggle of the poor? Do I have the kinds of friendships in my life which move me beyond bitterness and anger?" Since the Christian is one who strives to live in gratitude to God for the present moment, being enslaved to the past is not a good thing: "Nostalgia is an unhealthy depression, an adolescent sentimentality which leaves us clinging to the past so as to be unable to enter the present with verve and vitality. In the end it is a mummification, an unnatural embalming of something which is dead."
Rolheiser continues to shed light on the spiritual practice of yearning. This collection is essential reading for all those who have been edified and challenged by his previous work.