For me, Carmelite spirituality is personal, contemplative, solitary. I'm not saying the people at the meeting weren't all these things, but my parents didn't attend meetings, didn't have these social gatherings, didn't participate in any group activities. So, proceeding from what I was familiar with in my parents' examples, this was all new territory and not something I was looking for. I'm a homeschooling mom with kids I run all over town, the last thing I need right now is to add activities to my already hectic schedule and I don't need the socialization. Socialization was not what I was looking for; I was looking for a group that would help structure my prayer life without all the fluff. No offense intended.
As an aside, in the past few months I have met numerous folks who are what I consider an odd blend of things, expressive and contemplative, especially given my parents as the reference point, with my father who said his daily office along with a daily rosary, attended daily Mass, and prayed for hours and hours every afternoon. Lay Carmelites, from my experience, didn't engage so heavily in the world, things were more internal, such as my father spending a large amount of time saying prayers of petition for others -- if anyone was suffering from any ailment, they called my father. So, encountering people I would describe as "Charismatic Carmelites" is simply jarring.
One of the things I have been gradually learning (the hard way) this past year is not to judge. I'm honestly not trying to judge this strange breed of cat, but I don't get how you mix all the "prayers of quiet" and "prayers of recollection" with such outward expressions as praying in tongues or other things traditionally considered "Charismatic" in nature, like laying on of hands. I'm used to each having it's own arena, not a blending of the two seemingly diametric spiritual paths.
But, that's off on a tangent.
What was really on my mind was the Catch-22 beginners are in when they attempt to progress in the spiritual life. Paraphrasing St. Teresa, P. Marie-Eugene, OCD, in his, "I Want to See God," says:
"It is natural enough that the devil should use his great power and take advantage of the relative weakness of beginners in prayer, to stop them in their journey towards God by causing in them, as far as he is able, as much dryness and distractions as he can. That he thus intervenes -- often successfully -- in the prayer of beginners seems certain; and, although using on them much more benign procedures than on Saint Teresa, these are probably much more effective.
The action of these natural and prenatural causes enters into the plan of God who uses everything for the good of those whom He loves. Supernatural light and grace, fruits of the Passion and death of Christ, cannot penetrate deeply within a soul unless it shares in that redemptive suffering and death. Such sufferings give it light on its own self and establish it in humility..." (p. 244)
If you want to grow in the spiritual life, you have to suffer and carry part of the Cross, plus have the devil attempt to thwart you at every turn. The Pearl of Great Price scenario. You can't stay where you are, you cannot stagnate because you know better and will be lost if you drag your feet, but moving forward means you're going to be assaulted and suffer. Pere Marie-Eugene further says,
"Our inquiry will not bear on the voluntary causes of distractions and of dryness, such, for instance, as negligence in putting them out of mind during prayer or even complacence in entertaining them; notable neglect of spiritual reading and of the preparation necessary to secure for prayer its sustenance; dissipation of life and habitual lack of mortification of the senses. For these, it is easy indeed to state the remedy. Not to apply it, would be to condemn oneself to culpable failure." (p. 239)
It's almost like damned if you do, damned it you don't. Well, definitely damned if you don't, but not a whole lot of fun if you do. Akin to what St. Teresa talks about in the early mansions when she doesn't understand why souls would want to stagnate in the outermost mansions where they are prey to the vipers and beasts, but then few souls have the grit to make it much further than the third or fourth mansions because of the sufferings, trials and mortifications they will endure.
I think I liked reading the Narnia tales better.
As Archbishop John Ireland would say, "Ever press forward."