"Only those who have lived in the desert and eaten sand are qualified to assist and guide others in the arduous journey through it. For that task, no certificate in spiritual direction suffices. Foucauld ate more than his fair share of sand. His advice to desert dwellers includes honesty, acceptance, and passive love in those circumstances. First, he counsels us to be honest about the 'place' where we are. Deserts happen. There is no shame in admitting we are in one. He writes: 'In our prayers, let us not hide our suffering from God . . . let us not be afraid to complain about them. On the contrary, let us reveal them, simply, with an open heart . . . let us reveal them as would a loving heart that has an overwhelming need to confide everything it feels to the object of its passionate love . . . let us call upon God to help us.' Foucauld's advice reflects not only the importance of an experienced spiritual director, guide, or friend to whom we can open our hearts about the difficulties of life, but also the importance of absolute honesty with God in our prayer. Especially if we are in a desert we must seek God's direction.
"Resisting our deserts, our arid places, our dark places in prayer, is a little like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. Foucauld's second suggestion is that we accept our circumstances and be conformed to them and by them. Denial isn't helpful. If we are in a desert, we need to be in that place. I think his advice in this matter is like that of Jean-Pierre de Caussade, whose book Abandonment to Divine Providence greatly influenced Foucauld. Caussade's basic teaching is that we should abandon ourselves to Divine Providence, which is ultimately always benevolent. 'What God arranges for us to experience at each moment,' he writes, 'is the best and holiest thing that could happen to us.' Writing on Matthew 8:26 – 'Why are you fearful?' – Foucauld says, 'If we shape our will to [the Lord's], as everything that happens is either willed or allowed by him, we shall find joy in whatever happens, and shall never be disturbed or afraid.' One recalls St. Teresa of Avila's adage: 'Nada te turbe, todo se pasa.' (Let nothing disturb you. Everything passes.) He continues, 'We should never forget the two axioms: "Jesus is with me" and "Whatever happens, happens by the will of God." ' "