PEACE be with you ... PEACE be among the nations! During this Lenten season, may the wind of the Spirit that drove Jesus into the desert, into the furnace of prayer, also drive us with a passion to enkindle the fire of our devotion in the desert of Lenten love.
Once I enter wilderness, I am more honest with myself. The lure is less what I can tally or photograph than what I can sense: the quiet, intangible qualities of desert, mountain and forest. Wilderness has been characterized as barren and unproductive; little can be grown in its sand and rock. But the crops of the wilderness have always been its spiritual values -- silence and solitude, a sense of awe and gratitude -- able to be harvested by any traveler who visits. Prayers in the wilderness were like streams in the desert for me -- something unanticipated and unchronicled welling up, and because of that surprise, appreciated all the more. Not until I actually left the wilderness was I conscious what had been the extent of my thirst.
No one can know the ultimate mystery. We never will. But we can invest our lives with courage, dignity, sympathy, understanding, in such a way as to take the utterly crazy things that happen and transform them into a joyful and creative illumination. I am in search of the creativity that is at the center of human-beingness. I cannot know where this lies until I get there, but I have faith it is there where one aspect of God is. All of this implies my dealing with the opposite of what I am used to, a passive and quiet listening to what life says. To learn how to be.
For me, the question is whether my encounter with death has freed me enough from the addictions of the world that I can be true to my vocation as I now see it "sent" from above. It clearly involves a call to prayer, contemplation, silence, solitude, and inner detachment. I have to keep choosing my "not belonging" in order to belong, my not being from below in order to be from above. For, the taste of God's unconditional love quickly disappears when the addictive powers of everyday existence make their presence felt again.
Many of us live under the illusion that if we are not for good or for evil we can exist in some moral limbo. The reality is that if we do not choose to be given for the purposes of God, then we are available to be used for the purposes of evil. To be unconscious is to leave oneself open to being manipulated; to be awake and weeping is to be in touch with reality and available to be poured-out-through by the love of God.
Let us then labor for an inward stillness,
An inward stillness and an inward healing.
That perfect silence where the lips and heart
Are still, and we no longer entertain
Our own imperfect thoughts and vain opinions,
But God alone speaks in us, and we wait
in singleness of heart, that we may know
God's will and, in the silence of our spirits,
That we may do God's will, and do that only!
Returning to the source of one's being is rarely an experience that can be expressed in words. Kabir says, 'Those who have had a taste of this love are so enchanted that they are stricken with silence.' Have you ever been 'stricken with silence'? If so, you have tasted the ineffable; you have had a mystical experience. Silence is too often defined as 'the absence of something' when it is much more than that. Silence is also a search for something, a search for the depths, for the source ... Silence moves people. Being, one my say, is silent. We must embrace silence in order to express being. Then -- and only then -- does it speak deep truths to us ...
The all-important aim in meditation is to allow God's mysterious and silent presence within us to become more and more not only a reality, but the reality which gives meaning, shape and purpose to everything we do, to everything we are.
In prayerful solitude I find not only God and myself but the world and all in it, not as it sees itself but as it stands in reality.