When you awaken spiritually, you awaken to the power of intention. My friend, Jim Brannan, a savvy pilot and trainer of some of the world’s top pilots, knows this. After our writer’s group last Wednesday he sent me an email that helped me see it more clearly too.
“So where’s the answer?” he wrote. “I believe it’s in your statement, ‘To live a life wholly devoted to God in the midst of this distracting world requires a determination that is not only fierce, but that’s intentional and examined.’ As you say, ‘unexamined life is not worth living.’ To live the life you’re describing requires the power of intention, the power of intentional prayer, focused purposeful prayer. It is praying with expectation, it’s taking God up on his promises.”
Jim’s a pilot. I’m glad he knows the power of intention. He’s not only responsible for those he ferries through the skies, but he’s responsible for training the women and men who vault hundreds of thousands of us every day into the dizzying and dangerous heights.
“An intentional spiritual life,” he says, “means knowing how to live in the presence of God, focusing our attention, sustaining our awareness, checking in with God when our blood pressure goes up, or our anxiety increases. It means being aware of our inner lives in the midst of distraction. It’s living consciously in the Presence.”
The 14th century English mystic we know only as the one who wrote The Cloud of Unknowing—one of the most influential works of Christian devotion—says much the same thing. Those who awaken the power of intention focus their lives around an irrepressible Force for good in the world (chapters 37 and 38).
What’s even better, these lives are not just good, they’re generally happy and pleasant to be around.
In the state we’re in today, we could use a few more of them.