May 16, 2017

Time Alone

Sometimes there’s depression. Sometimes there are visions of overwhelming beauty, unity, and love. Most of the time, in between, there’s a quiet sense of God at work in my life. I nestle down into the Spirit that breathes in me, and that Spirit nudges and reassures me to help me on the path. The in-between time seems most important. Safe from emotional extremes, I can relax and live. I can trust in God. But when that presence is missing, my thoughts turn to chaos.

Hot air balloon over water Photo from

What do I need? Time alone; I’m getting plenty of that. Something fun. An artist’s date.

To stay awake for morning meditation. Fun books. Camping. Cooking. I made rajmah a few days ago, and it was great.

To fucking feel God’s presence again. I miss the hell out of it. Where are you these days, God? Why can’t I hear you anymore? I know you’re still with me, but I can’t tell, so it’s like you’re not there at all. Fuck you!!!

In less stringent words, but speaking to a similar condition: “To You I will cry, ‘O Lord my Rock: do not be silent to me, lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down into the pit.’” - Psalm 28:1

I’m having a really judgmental couple of days. It’s like, nothing’s right, why bother? The sense of quiet reassurance, quiet accompaniment, is missing. It makes me think, if I can’t feel God, what the hell is the point? But at the same time I have these white-hot flashes of joy. And even when I’m shouting at everything, even when my mind and body are consumed by fury, I still want God desperately.

“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears; for I am a stranger with You, a sojourner, as all my fathers were. Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, before I go away and am no more.” - Psalm 39:12-13

Listening to a concert last night, I was full of anger and regret about not being in a choir anymore myself. I really miss serious singing. Svitanya, the Silvertones, District/Regional/State chorus, the U of I Chorale, even the Women’s Choral Ensemble towards the end – I miss that, I miss it severely. It’s an angry hole burning in my heart. I gave it up, and now it’s eating me inside. Last night they sang “The Blue Green Hills of Earth” from Paul Winter’s Earth Mass. But nothing, nothing and no one can compare to the sheer majesty of hundreds of people throwing their voices to the packed cathedral of St. John the Divine. Nothing. God deserves such majesty and more; who are we to putter around in the corners and sing to something less than the heavens? Who are we to do that? We are no one, we are dust in the wind. All of man is but a breath. God is so much more, and it’s time we put aside our troubles and sang like our lives depended on it!!

Dear God in Heaven!
hallowed be Thy name.

Amen, amen, a fearful amen. An amen scratching out the corners and hiding in the eaves. Yet it’s what we’ve got. AMEN!!!

What’s most important to me? I’m asking You, God. I really want to know. I’m floundering in my own sea – send me a boat and a fair wind, and I’ll sail forward in confidence and joy!

There feels like so much more to say; I open myself up to God’s leading. What to do? write, sing, pray? meditate three times a day? You see, God, I’m struggling to stay afloat here. Like in the swim class yesterday, when I was wearing a foam belt but my chin kept dipping into the water. Felt like I’d sink. All the treading in the world, all the panic, and I was still going to sink.

You know how St. Bernadette Soubirous stuck to her guns as a young girl when people kept telling her she’d been wrong in her visions? I feel like that, only my inner being is a lot more troubled, a leaf on the wind.

“The Truth of God also searches the human heart and shows all that is contrary to this absolute love – much of what is considered the convention in human cultures – and prunes it away…. The Light of Christ leads to... a way of being attentive to divine leading and the sacredness which is part of all creation so that all things take their rightful place, and a transparency so complete that divine love is visible in all relationships.” - Margery Post Abbott, To Be Broken and Tender, p. v

I miss spiritual reading; I haven’t done much of it lately. And I miss college, and high school, and grad school, and Linda, and Laura, and Kira, and the rest of Svitanya, and Oberlin, and Pittsburgh, and Bosnia….

I miss feeling close to You, God. I hope You’ll grant me that grace again: a transparency so complete. There are times lately when I’ll start feeling close to You, but then the wall slams down, whether from me or from medication I don’t know. I’m just trying to do the things I need to do and not get bent out of shape when they’re not immediately effective. Patience is so hard to bear. I can’t do it on my own, even when it feels like that’s what You’re asking me to do.

The gentleness of this verse knocks me to my knees: “Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.” - Psalm 40:11

We’re going camping this weekend in Wharton State Forest. Adams and I are both really excited. For me right now it feels like a dull excitement, rich in iron and blood, maybe, but not much else. You know what I mean, I think. Nothing is hidden from You.

Loss of Spirit: does it happen all at once, or in a slow trickle? Can you feel it leaving your body, or are you too trapped in your head to notice? a bird too stuck to fly? And how do you make your way back from that tantalizing richness once it’s lost?

I think you get back to it all at once if you want to, or sometimes even when you don’t want to; God’s mercy is infinite. The Stream is always running. It’s easy to step out again when you’re out of practice, but the Source is always there.

Love yourself. Notice your body. Where is the tension, where are the aches, the looseness, the joy? What is God telling you through your body, and what’s keeping you from listening?

Mindfulness; chastened beauty. Allegro and we go.

“Listening to the Voice of the Light is the central piece in this puzzle….Faithfulness to the Guide does something to the heart that no amount of money or fame can do. When I am acting and speaking in accord with the Light, my voice is steady, my actions sure, my words correct. The uncertainties and doubts drop away.” - To Be Broken and Tender, pp. 58-59

That assurance is what I want more than anything else. Where I sometimes sense it lately is in an inner response to my rising ego, particularly when I’m talking with someone and just thought of something to say. The inner guidance shows me the fear or desperation underlying my haste to respond. Sometimes I listen and forgo saying whatever it was, and then there’s a sense of inner emptiness and calm. Other times I say the thing anyway, and then the sense of calm usually doesn’t come, but sometimes it does.

I’ve also been setting healthier boundaries with the kids that I babysit. I used to just go along with whatever they wanted to do, getting upset when they got upset. But lately I’ve realized that that causes a lot of stress and isn’t really good for any of us. So I’ve started saying no and redirecting more often, which I think is going much better. It helps that I’m often super-tired and don’t have much energy; I’ve learned to notice that and accommodate my needs (usually) instead of just forging on ahead.

It seems the Spirit has been leading me after all – what a relief!!! I haven’t been alone or abandoned or anything like that. I’ve been distractable and have had some trouble establishing and keeping a healthy routine. But this week I feel much better than last week.

God, you know? God is with us.

“In place of unworthiness I came to realize a sense of divine love flowing through me when I responded to those gentle nudges on the heart. In place of the totally rational view of the world came a fuller use of all my senses and the new inner eye and ear which were now a part of my consciousness.” - To Be Broken and Tender, p. 15

I want to heed God’s call to ministry because I am being called, as was Margery Post Abbott. I want to notice each nudge as it comes and season it so I can discern what to do (or what not to do). I give myself up, all my ego and my memories and my stories, to be melted down and remade in the image of God. I want to live in that stability, that dynamic life.

I don’t have energy to process all this now, my God. Help me to do it at the pace You’ve set for me. Help me stay strong and encouraged and light-hearted. I keep taking on too much at once, too many things and too-high expectations, and sliding into despair. That’s not the way You’ve set for me, is it? I’ve spent so much time listening to my own voice that I don’t even know.

Let us live in the Spirit and attend to it. It’s amazing. Our lives can be so much richer.

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by.” - Psalm 57:1

Thank you, thank you! Thanks be to God!

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