Holy attachments

During the pandemic, I went six months without touching another human being. I felt starved.

The season of Lent is a gift. It presents an annual opportunity to reassess where we are in our relationship with God and the world, with self and others. Jesus famously said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”; he reminds us that treasure is no simple and readily defined thing. Indeed, anything can become treasure, not only our possessions but our need for position or respect or our love for self or family or country. Jesus reminds us to reorient our attention toward the true treasure, God, the one who will set us free to love and live in abundance.

As a spiritual director, I am fascinated by these seeming distractions from God. Ignatius calls them attachments. After many years of counseling others and being counseled myself, I am only too aware that we all have attachments which get in the way of our relationship with God. I also know  that these attachments—to possessions, to ambition, to endorphin highs— can be multiform. Each of us will negotiate a combination of attachments specific to ourselves and our circumstances.

However, if Lent does offer an opportunity to reassess, it therefore also presents a chance to examine whether there is holiness to be found in some kinds of attachment. Recent years, especially those challenging days of the pandemic when I spent long periods in isolation, revealed for me the holiness of some attachments. Those attachments resolve into two categories: the proximal and the haptic.