A powerful, thought-provoking insight....

Give me a well-trained tongue that has been borne out of silent listening in the sanctuary of my heart.

~ sevensacredpauses by Macrina Wiederkehr

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mystic Happenings

There are times in all of our lives when we feel closer to God.  I have found that when I am in deep contemplation of questions I feel much closer to God.  Through this blog, I have shared my personal images of wrestling with God in a pool of grace; of sitting with God across the dining room table; of having God envelop me with peace and warmth as only God can do.  When I experience God in these ways, I experience physical responses. 

Recently, I decided to take myself on a retreat to the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia.  I love the Monastery and have been "retreating" there for nigh on 30 years.  I am now and was raised as a child in the Protestant tradition; yet, as a teen I dreamed of being a nun.  I was drawn to and appreciative of the beautiful rigor of their cloistered life. 

I have partaken of the writings of the early Church's mystics and have found them to be gently intriquing, oddly familiar.  What I have found is that I hear a lot of my own experiences reflected in the writings I have explored.

This past week when I was at the Monastery, I was seeking God's word for me in regard to my call, my vocation and my future.  There is an installation of the Stations of the Cross along a trail close to the lake.  I decided to approach the Stations with the mindset of lectio divina, reading the prayers and reflections at each Station paying attention to what radiated or stood out for me.  Over the next forty-five minutes, I traveled the Stations, hearing a word about trust and reliance again and again.  Then, at the thirteenth or fourteenth Station, as I was reading a reflection on the nailing of Jesus to the Cross, a question was posed about the nail in the left hand: "Was the nail in the left hand for those consecrated yet living a lukewarm life?" 

The Word received was overwhelming.  I needed time and space to process what I felt God was trying to tell me.  I walked on to the Chapel and sat in the cool quiet waiting for noon prayers only to find myself unable to stay, unable to sit still.  So, I got up and began walking again, heading toward the Refrectory.  Now, I see that I was unable to sit through the quiet of noon prayers because I did not want to hear what God had to say; I was unprepared to lift up to God what I was thinking and feeling; I was "running away."

As I was walking toward the Refrectory, the bells began to ring for prayers.  With the first tones, my feet became rooted to the sidewalk.  I was unable to move.  The bell's tones filled me and traveled through my body, stirring my emotions, emptying my mind of words...out came single, powerful words offering up my doubt, fear, sorrow, questions, confession...they kept coming as each tone rang out.  Only as the last tone faded away was I able to move once again.  I was stunned.  The point was well taken.  Running away was not to be allowed; I was there to retreat and spend time with God.

Since my visit, I have had plenty of time to reflect on the Word I was given and how it might apply to my life, my call.  Fortunately, I have a number of spiritual friends with whom I have shared my experiences and who have helped me by asking clarifying questions.  Questions like do I consider myself as living a "lukewarm" life?  How committed and enthusiastic have I been lately?  Do I trust and rely on God to provide for me and my family?  If I see myself as having clenched hands, grasping so tightly what I and my family have, how do I see God giving me anything?  How will I be able to receive anything with clenched hands?  Could I need to take a break?  A pause on my journey, a plateau?  Good, meaningful work is done on plateaus. 

That, of course, brought me to ambition.  What am I ambitious for...my own "success" or that of the Word I have been given to share?  How does ambition play with a "lukewarm" life?  Can ambition be acceptable within the work of a consecrated life?

Lots of questions; yet, I'm feeling less confused and more hopeful.  Interesting how that is.

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