Here's an irony: I spend this month with the writing-every-day challenge, saying more, putting more into words than I typically do. And at the same time, I find myself being called deeper into silence.
When you spend time with me in person in at least a slight variety of settings, you realize that I am not often a talkative person. Listening comes naturally to me, and I like to think before I talk. I can be comfortable sitting with someone in silence.
But none of that is what I mean. I probably couldn't get more silent that way if I tried, at least not while my children still live at home with me.
The silence I am talking about is stillness. It involves the mind, the soul, and the attentiveness. My mouth is calm, but my mind is able to go a mile a minute.
Over the last several years, I've experienced other times when it seemed I was being called to deeper silence, and in retrospect those were about deepening prayer, or turning off the talking-inside-myself and turning fuller attention to reality, to God's presence, and to God's Word. As a result, I don't have racing-brain like I used to. I don't have the thought-obsession I used to. Each of these seasons seemed to be proceeded by a more intense outward focus in my life in general. And now I find this looping back again.
It's the "be still and know that I am God" moment. The one who beckons is God, and God is real. The reality of God is also scary and disconcerting for those of us who live in the mortal coil. And yet, it is silly to think in terms of being called without concerning oneself in the first place with the One who calls. God is a Personal Being, not a force. He acts with design, with purpose, and for good. There is a dynamic going on that is not of my origination.
Here's a little secret: ever since I was a child I would get very nervous at the prospect of contact with God. Every Sunday when we pulled into the church parking lot, I had a sense of expectation that was like butterflies in my stomach. Now, for better or for worse I have grown accustomed to some means and avenues of encounter with God. My church didn't even have a tabernacle in it as a child like my parish does now, but I do not regularly tremble when I enter a church anymore. But there are moments, like what I sense now in this call to deeper silence, prayer, and stillness, that make me nervous. It always involves a sense of death, which means unknown, fear of loss, the need for courage, vulnerability. It is a gift, and I know that, but I also recognize that I fight and resist God every single time He gives me a gift.
Lately I have been asking St. Therese to pray for me, to teach me to "simply love." Because it seems that's what it boils down to. Leave the drama, leave the complicated thoughts, leave the desire for a human buffer, enter with trust and humility, and simply accept that God is real, and He calls. This is a normal relationship with God. It is to be lived.