Everyone has a self preservation instinct. The idea of care of self is not a hard thing to figure out; don’t drink, don’t do drugs, don’t put yourself into dangerous situations, stay out of harm’s way. What about the rest of yourself? Huh, you say? You know, your head, what about your head, the inside part of your head? As a society focused on the importance of what we see, the outside is obvious and the inside not so much. In the spiritual life we know that the toughest battles exist in the space between our ears. Mastering the physical is not nearly as hard as mastering the ever niggling intellect.
Yet, all the prominent influences around us scream “look at”: that body, car, house, phone, watch, salary, designer dress, and on. It is literally impossible to insulate ourselves from the screaming influence of “looks”, the exterior. Even a spirit filled person can be drawn into that fray. This makes it even more imperative to give attention to the care of our intellect. As Catholic writers we are obliged to present the one point of view that is not enslaved by cultural values, strong as they may be. Our intellect must be Christ centered, sharp and well schooled in order to do this.
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance [the culture] but , as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct.” 1 Peter 1:15-16.
In the fray of everyday life what are you doing to keep in mental shape? I’m not talking about sanity but clarity. Perhaps you go out of your way to get to the gym or do a daily walk/run? Those are good things but what are you doing every day to guard and keep your intellect fit? The mind (in conjunction with the spirit) is the source of who you present to the world as a writer. Do you take purposeful time to “gird up the loins of your mind”?
Matthew 6:22 teaches that any light within you comes by your eyes. Do you take care to maintain your clarity by guarding what enters your vision? Are you aware that when you cast your eyes on violence, unkindness, strife, perversion and the like, your intellect and spirit become marked? This kind of internal pollution kinks your ability to think clearly and in a way that is God directed. Even casual viewing leaves a “mark”. Are you careful about what your eyes consume?
Long ago I quit watching shows like Springer, and reality television because I just felt wrong about participating in another person’s embarrassment, humiliation and/or misery. Even if you are not the “cause”, choosing to watch another’s trouble is soul wounding. In a like manner, do you “take in” what is healing and uplifting? I have read the gospel daily for 30 years. Hearing is one thing but reading is a holy act that actually takes the scripture into your being though the eyes. Equally good for your soul is beautiful art, writings by our saints and church fathers and the nature that surrounds us. Guard what you see and you might be surprised at how clear your writing chops become!