| Alone and not a drop to drink. The dry, barren desert road of self-love.|
(You're kidding, right? RIGHT? This is the CURE?!)
If Pride is considered the "mother of all sins", it's time to introduce you to a sibling of hers: Self-love. Pride and self-love, are the prime movers of the deadly sins, along with fear. But the reason we have fear is because of pride and self-love.
I mean, let's face it, the ego serves itself. Sometimes we THINK we are doing things for the Lord only to find out later that it was simply a secret supply line to the ego.
And the hard thing is that all these "secret supply lines" that feed self-love have to be cut off. This includes our attachments to spiritual consolations and even our secret attachment to "doing good" if we have it (and which we may not be aware of) - many of these things secretly feed our ego, our pride, and so must be stripped from us for our own good. It's a very painful process but one that helps us direct our hearts to our true end.
Which is God.
Think of it as a purification of our intentions. Of our secret motives. Motives that we aren't even aware of. A purification that will eventually give us that perfect purity of heart which allows us to see God.
You just can't bear good fruit with the water of your own self-love. No, in order to bear good fruit our own water lines must be shut down completely so that the heavenly water lines may open.
The shutting down of our secret supply lines, the ones hidden below the surface, takes a long time. The greater the self-love, the more intense the process will be. Thus we suffer from a great and terrible aridity during these times. There is no longer attraction to the things of the world, nor is there much to things of the spirit when pride and self-love are being stripped from the soul. This isn't even something we can do ourselves because the root of it is beyond our ability to access.
It's like being caught betwixt and between. Our hearts feel like a barren wasteland. No joy in earthly things and nothing but fizzle instead of sizzle when it comes to heavenly things.
Yes, think "desert". A long dry season but one that has a purpose - to bring you out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.
(Ooops... I almost wrote "dessert". You know, one of those Lenten Freudian slips. It's a "chocolate" thing in my case.)
At the beginning of the spiritual life we can do a great deal to help shut down the supply lines feeding self-love but eventually you get to a point where your own power is insufficient (and really just gets in the way) and you must rely on God to do the work in your soul.
Though it does seem as if God took a vacation without you and forgot to tell you when he'll be back.
Humility is THE virtue to pray for as we undergo this stripping. The more I learn about humility, the more I realize the importance of praying for it daily.
Without it, we can't make progress spiritually.
Without it, we can't bear fruit.
Without it, we cannot bear our time in the desert and tend to return to the slavery of "Egypt" (read - "slavery to the world").
Perish the thought.
The plus side of the desert is that it's where we become aware of just how strong our attachment is to self and where God weans us from this attachment.
There is a direct correlation between our ability to surrender to God and our humility. Because, in order to surrender to God we need to let go of self.
You can't cling to God if your hands are too busy hugging yourself.
Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, You are my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. In the one, the princes and the nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying, while the former take thought for all. The one delights in its own strength, represented in the persons of its rulers; the other says to its God, I will love You, O Lord, my strength. St. Augustine, The City of God (The bold is mine)