Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.
Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is rack'd with pangs that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a Fury slinging flame.
Be near me when my faith is dry,
And men the flies of latter spring,
That lay their eggs, and sting and sing
And weave their petty cells and die.
Tennyson is one of my favourite poets. (Both 'Ulysses' and 'Locksley Hall' would be candidates for my favourite poem of all time.) 'In Memoriam' is not my favourite, but these lines seem to me a wonderful evocation of spiritual dryness, and (although I think Tennyson was addressing his dead friend rather than the Almighty) a very beautiful prayer.
I've often been struck by a strange paradox; faith seems strongest when it is slenderest. In some ways, we seem closest to God when we are spiritually arid, when we feel the least 'spiritual'. I feel frustrated writing this, because it seems like a truism from a devotional book, and that's not what I mean. I mean something very specific and very definite-- and perhaps something more psychological than spiritual (though one could argue those two adjectives are synonyms, 'psyche' simply meaning 'soul'. But you know what I mean.).
I know that when I find myself going through the motions at Mass, going through the motions in prayer, those are amongst the times I feel most comfort in my faith.
I suppose I should be embarrassed to admit it, but I actually like that prose poem 'Footsteps' that graces so many calendars and posters. (It is of a class with several poems that should be awful by any ordinary reckoning, but are actually very good-- 'Desiderata', 'The Gate of the Year', "A Visit from Saint Nicholas'. I'm sure there are others.)
I don't suppose this sensation I describe is unique to Catholics. I would guess it is shared by all organized religions, and that even patriotism (the more quiet sort of patriotism) might supply it to some extent. I think it is simply the case that ritual, community, ceremony and continuity mean the most to us when we are feeling the least spontaneous, exuberant and spirited.
But, on second thoughts, I think there is something, not uniquely, but especially Catholic about it.