My daughter learned to crawl recently and in so doing she achieved mobility. This is the third baby I observed learning how to crawl in my domestic church and I've noticed some patterns.
Perhaps most obvious is that learning to crawl doesn't happen all at once. First, she pushed up her chest with her arms. Then she pushed up her butt with her legs. Then she pushed her whole body up on arms and legs. She rolled, twisted, sat up, lay down, and generally moved every way she could move before she first moved forward.
A few days before she actually started crawling, I was convinced she had all the strength, skills, coordination, and control she needed. I believed each of my three daughters were capable of crawling before they actually chose to do it. When considering why a child capable of mobility would choose not to use it, I can only conclude that she did not realize of what she was capable.
The idea that a person may be capable of a significant developmental leap and not realize of what she is capable is worth reflecting on in our domestic churches. I think it is likely our spiritual development is similar. We may be capable of achieving a new level of intimacy with the Lord, of achieving a new and deeper insight into one of faith's mysteries, of conquering a habit of sin and achieving new moral strength, or of sharing our faith with a clarity we previously thought impossible. While we may be capable, like the baby on all fours but not moving forward, we may not realize of what we are capable.
How do we discover new potential capability? The baby learned to crawl through a myriad of small and less exciting exercises. Lent is a perfect time for these sorts of spiritual exercises in our domestic churches. We can pray, fast, give alms, read scripture, go to mass, go to reconciliation, read papal documents, read spiritual books, listen to spiritual podcasts, contemplate in silence, and so much more. While each of these may not seem like dramatic spiritual developmental leaps, they do exercise the spiritual muscles that might be needed for the next milestone. They also give us opportunities to discover how the spiritual motions might combine to enable a movement we never thought possible.
While developing the individual muscle movements is important, it is not enough for the child to crawl. The child must have the epiphany moment when she realizes what is possible when the seemingly separate movements are combined. This epiphany moment cannot be forced or predicted or planned or controlled. All that we can do is create opportunities for this to occur. For a baby learning to crawl, this means putting her on the floor surrounded by plenty of open space. Spiritually this may mean taking time to be still, surrounded by plenty of silence. In this time of meditation and reflection, we may from time to time realize an opportunity to leap forward in our relationship with God. If we remain open to new possibilities and spiritually exercise regularly, we may discover new spiritual mobility.