Yesterday, in my morning reading, Emilie Cady mentioned a little book called “The Practice of the Presence of God”, by Brother Lawrence. I went to Amazon, purchased it and began reading it while I walked the treadmill yesterday.
Here is the quote from Dr. Cady that enticed me to buy it: “Learn to sever yourself from those around you. Practice this, and soon you can be as much alone with God in the street or in a crowded room as you could be in the wilds of a desert.”
For me this does not mean becoming isolated, but, instead, it simply means becoming more aware. Over the years I have spoken and written about it often, this need for quiet. It is only lately, however, that I am beginning to feel the effects of the silence.
It’s not a silence where no words are spoken. Nor is it a silence where no thoughts are thought or work is done.
It’s a time of softness.
Each day we live this life, we fill it with things to do, places to go, meetings, errands, family, deadlines, lists, have-tos. The internal noise level is deafening. Our bodies react by becoming so wound up that the idea of letting go means disaster. To make matters worse, we neglect that body. We fill it with food “to go”, consider running errands and cheering kids at the park to be our exercise for the day and a weekly one hour trip to church on Sunday to be our spiritual fix for the week.
Here’s my words of wisdom for those of you that I have just described: That is not a life enjoyed. I know, I’ve been there.
Some days, I still am. I will look at my schedule for the day and realize that I won’t be back home again until 9 p.m. or later (and my day typically starts at 5:30 a.m.). Realizing this I have a choice as to how I will react.
- I can begin to tense up knowing the amount of work I have ahead of me, often starting the next meeting before I’ve had a chance to absorb and understand the first. Trying to find time in between to complete a never ending task list all the while knowing that this day will take me, once again, away from my cherished home life. Yes, this could make anyone tense. I’d be lying if I said it never happens to me. It does.
- On the other hand, I can use that tension as a signal to begin differently. The items on my calendar are not likely to change. If anything, it may get busier because, well, you never know “what a day will bring”. So I begin with me. Meditation, writing, reading, walking. Me and God. Bringing those two, seemingly very different, entities into one space.
This is the work that is most important. This is the work that will bring peace in the midst of chaos. This is what will bring softness and grace to the every day. And, yes, this is what brings a gentleness to my busy world. In the moments of great tension (because, let’s be honest, they do exist) this practice provides me with the tools I need to more easily return to my peaceful center. The momentary lapse does not cause me to mentally beat myself up for stepping out of alignment. The lapse is simply a moment of realization that old ways no longer serve me.
Many of you will say “I have no time for that”. Oh, my sweet friends, yes, you do. It’s a choice, nothing more, nothing less. Schedule it if you have to. What I mentioned above can be done in less than an hour a day. You’ve got 24 of those. Your life – the entire life – needs it. It can’t wait for “some day”.
And the gift you will receive when you begin to bring quiet to your day?
Nothing but peace….
From my heart to yours, Diane