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Here in this Place

September 27, 2012

Some days, I can say with confidence that God speaks to me.  By the time a few days have passed, I am not quite so sure anymore.  I remember what I read somewhere—wish I could remember where.  I am guessing either Rachel Held Evans or Lauren Winner said it….  Stories of God’s presence and God talking to us sound like one of two things.  We either sound a bit crazy, happy-clappy, pulling meaning out of nothingness or it ends up sounding gushy and flowery, again making us sound a bit nuts.  That’s why I have a bit of a problem with many spiritual memoirs–other’s religious experiences fail to translate to me and I feel a bit critical and emotionally detached.

With that said, I am moving forward, knowing I may sound crazy or gushy.

Tuesday afternoon, I was trying to get Isaac to take a nap.  Isaac is almost 3 1/2 and not terribly interested in napping.  There are clearly more exciting things than sleeping.  While I would be more than happy to drop the nap (especially because it would free up all the time it takes to get him sleep), he still needs it.  Even with a 1 -2 hour nap, Isaac sleeps from 8 – 6/6:30 every night (which is all the later he can sleep due to getting the biggers off for school).  Isaac also is persistent.  He knows he can get out of his bed at nap time, so he does, over and over and over.  I could lock him in his room (the only way to keep him from roaming the house), but I recently discovered that when desperate, he’ll pop the screen out of his second story window with the plan of escaping out the window.  So I sit with Isaac.  Lately, I’ve used the time that I sit with Isaac to do my quiet time.  I read my book, my daily liturgy, and I pray.  This is exactly what I did Tuesday.

It took me awhile to get to my daily quiet.  The first 15 minutes or so I spent with Isaac I read The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton.  For a spiritual memoir/autobiography, I’m liking it ok.    It helps that Merton is a fabulous writer and has the humility of a monk (which he was).  But I digress.  I sat in the chair in Isaac’s room and read this:

There is not a flower that opens, not a seed that falls onto the ground, and not an ear of wheat that nods on the end of its stalk in the wind that does not preach and proclaim the greatness and the mercy of God to the whole world.

There is not an act of kindness or generosity, not an act of sacrifice done, or a word of peace and gentleness spoken, not a child’s prayer uttered, that does not sing hymns to God before His throne, and in the eyes of men, and before their faces….The quietness and hiddenness and placidity of the truly good people in the world proclaim the glory of God.

I can only read Merton but for so long.  I love Merton’s writing, but he wrote so richly that I need to read slowly, savoring the mouthfuls instead of inhaling the book as I would a bag of chips.  (If this book was a meal, it would be a creamy, cheesy polenta, topped with grass fed thinly sliced beef that’s still a bit pink in the middle and accompanied with freshly picked, perfectly cooked young root vegetables).  Although I had ample time to read Merton, about all I can managed is 15 – 30 minutes before I am satisfied.  Once I had my fill on Tuesday, I turned to my daily reading and liturgy.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am reading Joan Chittister’s The Monastery of the Heart.  She manages to challenge me every day to love God more and accept God’s love (and respond to it) more.  Chittister said this in my reading:

It [the heart] lives in a state

of continual contemplation

where the face of God

is as clear as lightning

in the dark–

because we have finally learned

to see beyond everything that is

to the mind of the God

who made it.

…we finally realize

that God’s will for us

is that we come to realize

that all things are of God–

all the moments of our lives

however stumbling they may be–

and that all things call us to melt into

one great paean of praise

for the joy of having found

the God we continue to seek.

That was when I realized it.  God was speaking to me.  In the words I read, the words that repeated each other, written over 60 years apart, words that echoed the psalmist and Paul, God spoke to me.  God was with me.  At that moment, I knew the presence of God was in Isaac’s room with us.  God was there as Isaac wiggled and tried to engage me conversation in hopes of staying a wake longer.  God was with me as I sat in the well-used glider chair again.  God was here.  God is always here, always.  I, too often though, am too self-absorbed to realize that I am never alone.

Isaac eventually went to sleep.  The stress of trying to get him to sleep had disippated with the realization that I wasn’t putting this wiggly boy to bed by myself.  Amazing what a difference that makes.

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