Discerning the layers of desires within us
Part 1. Begin with the Word of God:
Read the following Text: John 1: 35-42
Focus on the question of Jesus in John 1:38:
- Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, “What do you want?”
(In other translations, the question is: “What are you looking for?” or “What do you seek?”
Part 2: The Layers of “What We Seek”
Do we really know what we want? Our desires are multi-layered and often enmeshed. For instance, in the prayer of St Augustine, “Oh Master, give me chastity and continence, but not yet,” there are at least two layers of desire. There is a desire to be chaste (may be at a deeper level), but there is also a desire to be wayward. If we get swayed by our shallow desire, then we may end up being empty, and in due course, frustrated and unhappy.
Similarly, there could be, at a deeper level within us, a desire to leave a legacy behind, but at a shallow level there could be a desire to be popular and famous. Both these are related, but if I focus on the shallow desire I might lose myself in overworking and getting burnt-out, or in putting down others in order to be popular. On the other hand, if I focus on the desire to leave a legacy, I may achieve what I want more gracefully, including the legacy of good relationships.
Can you identify the layers of desires within you? Using the reverse of this sheet, write down as many desires as you can get in touch with. Answer the question (What do you want?) as sincerely and fully as you can. Write your responses at appropriate levels as you might perceive. Now, please turn over!
Part 3: What is all this about?
After completing Part 2, have a second look at the waves of desires (on the reverse of this page). In the box below write down your thoughts and feelings about the exercise. What does this reality tell you about yourself?
The Waves of Desire:
Write down as many desires as you can possibly identify within yourself, layering them in terms of deep and shallow desires. Write deep ones at the bottom of the page and the shallow ones on top.
Fr Sahaya G. Selvam SDB
To subscribe to the magazine Contact Us