my soul in silence waits – days 1 and 2

Day 1 – longing

From a box of books, offered for my perusal by a dear friend, I pulled one slim volume, authored by an old familiar name, a previous volume of hers I recalled having deeply appreciated years ago. I had purged my own shelves of similar books a few years back, no longer finding resonance in their sentiments. Overtly religious in a way that I have not explored in some years, I trusted this woman author nonetheless. Besides, the title had to do with Silence. How comforting that invitation felt.

Still, I did not necessarily intend to open the book straight away, but after closing the cover on the non-fiction, science-based treatise on the psychological – restorative and enriching- benefits of Nature, there it was at the top of the stack. Choosing to open myself to what felt like something coming in from outside of myself, opening the cover on what might not at all be my own choice for a next read, from a box of the discarded, nonetheless, felt like an invitation somehow. (In truth, I love receiving books from friends as gifts, for I am without fail enriched by their choices for me, but these were books even my friend did not cherish any longer) Away from the safety of following my own narrow trail – one breadcrumb leading to the next – and stepping out onto an unexpected divergent path, is to see and to be seen by what my more narrow algorithmic trajectory might entirely miss.  Much has been learned about the ways in which we confirm our biases by what we choose to consume – whether media or food – and so, despite the fact that it can be comforting, validating and deepening to find kindred souls ‘out there’, it is also beneficial to our souls to introduce them to ideas that broaden, as well as deepen them.  I suspect this is how Love—or at the very least Empathy–  grows, after all .

Still, I laugh at myself as I write this, because, after all, it WAS a box of books of a dear friend, and I gleaned the safest selection from the pile!! So, it was not much of a stretch perhaps at all. I was more afraid perhaps that the God I would find in its pages would reject me!  However, in opening its pages, it has felt more like wrapping myself in an old blanket, hol-ey and smelling of comfort.

Indeed, in the first chapter’s invitation to explore my  longings – longings that I may have suppressed or denied – and to begin to name the ways that my restlessness has led me on strange paths, all the while truly seeking rest,  I felt the resonance straight away, for the nagging feelings of loss and longing within me were stirred awake from where I keep them contained.  Re-entering these waters was like stepping into  a warm bath, where the hidden, unacknowledged life in my womb stirs.  I have indeed deeply missed the feelings of comfort, of belovedness, longed for the relationship to Spirit (Soul –Withinness- I don’t even know how to name it) that I once knew. It feels  like coming home.

Day 2 – silence

Today’s invitation is to sit in silence, and also to notice what keeps me from withdrawing to that place of silence. Of course, although to many my life may appear to be quite quiet and withdrawn, I can fill that spaciousness as much as any other.

First and most obvious is today’s technology, always at the ready to divert, to bounce into when one begins to feel the emptiness, to fill it with ‘noise’. It is the plague of our day. In some ways, this chapter dovetails nicely with the more left-brained research of the Nature Fix book, which employed scientific methods ( brain and body scans) to measure what all the ‘noise’ in our lives does to us. (and perhaps, because of its methods, the book itself was also ‘noisy’, full of data and information. And I rcognize that this is also a way that I fill the silence in me—with knowledge , often over and against experience, as if I need to confirm what I ‘know’ or feel)

I spent much of yesterday (I am convalescing from an illness that has really wiped me out – enforcing stillness perhaps?) re-reading the book , “Awe filled Wonder”, which I’d read last spring and had found so breath-giving for me. I wanted to try to recapture what it was that I’d felt when reading it. I recalled that it had offered me a way to enter into ‘prayer’ again (as opposed to ‘mere’ meditation), offering me a new image – a way to conceptualize the energy of “God” without having to disregard my mind. 

I should explain that my concept of ‘God’ (oh what hubris is in that sentiment) had never completely disappeared, merely dissipated into a vague, pervasive presence within all, a presence that I had found increasingly impossible to pray to , or even with, rather could only seem to acknowledge, even if with wonder at times.  To ‘live and dwell and have one’s being’ in a field of the sacred, while on one hand may allow communion to feel quite a constant and natural thing, on the other, paradoxically, can feel quite empty—empty of feeling known or loved . It’s the whole ‘personal’ thing, perhaps a selfish need, though I am after all, merely human- vulnerable and needy.

I have digressed (funny, in an exercise which invites me to notice how I fill- or distract myself from- the silence, that these tendrils of thought so effortlessly unfurl) . Returning to the book yesterday, I wanted to be reminded of that feeling of peace and relief, the ‘yes’, I had experienced when reading it a year ago. It wasn’t quite the same experience in re-reading it, however. Perhaps I was skimming across its surface rather than plumbing its depths, but basically I came away with the refresher that prayer is rather like ‘tapping in’ to presence (or source, or energy) along with the idea that in this universe , Love embracing that which feels quite opposite to Love is what births new Light (think electron and positron encountering  one another, each one being annihilated in the process but resulting in 2 photons of light appearing, or Jesus on the cross embracing in freedom and compassion those who harmed him. )

And so, as to not deny that, while I have felt perhaps stuck in my journey of Spirit thse last years, which I have accepted as some mixture of Dark Night (where is God) and Unitive awareness (All is God), my actual soul’s journey, unclaimed by my  all-too-human consciousness, may have indeed been carrying me along in its deepening evolution.  Even as I have at times felt as if I have been skimming along the surface, Love has been unfolding below the surface, within and even without me.  Simply because a thing is not named or claimed does not mean that it does not exist.

Surely, I can see that “God” has been with me (because It is with everything, the center of all as both modern physics and Augustine assert), even as I once recognized “God” had been with me throughout those long years between when I rejected the idea preached about ‘God’ as Judge at a tender young age to when ‘God’ reemerged 20 years later as Lover.  It seems that ‘not God’ is the way, for me at least, to move more deeply INTO God.  For, as I look back now at what I have been invited to in these last years of my life, I can surely see that the call in me to embrace the ‘other’ as good— or at least, lovable, forgiveable, understandable, embraceable—is nothing other than Love.  Innately, I have understood (because it is WHO I am?) that dividing is not the way of Love. My ‘nature’, while frustrating to many and while it often would be easier for me to hop on the bandwagon and belong , it seems cannot be denied its inability to demonize. (of course, the danger for me is to somehow not demonize inadvertently the ones I perceive as demonizing!!! )

And so, back to silence, to prayer, to waiting…

The chapter suggests I look at the clothes/layers I have donned for protection. This is something that has come up in my private journaling quite often for me—this feeling of hardness overlying me and not liking the way it makes me feel. But lately, this seed in me, rooting perhaps over this long season of darkness, seems to be pushing, making itself known, cracking the surface layers. It feels like a glowing orb in my womb … this Orb of Hope I spoke of last week. … growing large enough to be seen, as life in the womb is wont to do. Not that the Hope itself is new, or that the knowledge of its All Is Well/All is Love is new either, but that the need to hide it seems to be falling away. My willingness to reveal it, despite the prospect of being misunderstood or diminished (well, it truly can’t be diminished, after all) feels fresh – refreshed. As a pregnant woman soon realizes, the clothes she once wore to conceal soon are useless to do so. I do imagine/hope that the drape I will choose as I grow will be a soft one , no bulging belly in your face for me. I am a creature of ‘habit’, after all.

 Perhaps that is the way in this Life’s evolution life, this becoming  of Love, which I once saw so clearly as concentric wombings. I had forgotten that at times, this means the seed cannot be discerned at all. At times it is a secret too precious/tender to be revealed. At times the quickening reveals its presence like the fluttering of butterfly wings.  And then it is suddenly quite evident, the bearer of Love’s union aglow.

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