The will steers the heart. Often it seems it would be easier if there were fewer choices. Yet, every time I pray as You taught us, I say the words: “Your will be done”, and, I think: ‘ You’ve left us with a pretty clear picture of just what Your will is. Anything beyond that is probably my will and superfluous. The key is to make Your will my will.’
The problem I have with this is the seeming lack of freedom to do that very thing which is the essence of the will: to choose. My love for You is steered by my will, but my will does not seem free to choose when You say Your will must be my will. How, then, is my love freely given when, it seems, I have only one choice?
The answer, of course, lies in the fact that I can reject Your will - which is another choice. I started out by saying: the will steers the heart, which means that my choices determine my love or my lack thereof. But the reciprocal truth seems equally evident: that the heart steers the will. That is, my desires, what I love, governs the choices I make - what I will!
Philosophers say that what sets man apart from other creatures is his spirit, his soul! Further, they say that a man’s spirit or soul is made up of two primary elements: the intellect and the will. It is these that mark me as Yours. But Your gift of the free use of them can be abused. There have always been conflicts between my will and Yours. These conflicts push me apart from You. They also fuel the greater conflict within myself of recognizing Your will and making it mine. It is that for which both prayer and patience are needed; for I’m not sure that in discerning Your will in my life You’d want me to find a place of perpetual isolated contemplation, or a combination of the contemplative and active life - or whatever! I think this was one of Thomas Merton’s biggest struggles. How do I know whether something is just my will but not Yours? I must trust and be patient that You will show me.