I’ve been reading a lot lately. And when I read (no matter the title,) you will often find me high-lighting, underlining, or note taking along the way! I always find a word, a line, a phrase, or even a chapter that seems to speak to my soul. Which can be exhausting at times since it would appear ‘my soul-self’ has a lot to learn!!
Recently, a common theme keeps popping up. A challenging theme which has lead me to delve into a self-examination of myself unexpectantly, (yet delightfully just the same!)
I love this sort of surprise! Challenging…but fruitful! Like when I first discovered Kayaking!
I thought I enjoyed kayaking because it was a form of exercise I could manage & that I enjoyed; however, at a deeper unexpected level it challenged/helped/taught me…how to conquer a life-long fear of being in deep waters! (The life-jacket may have helped too!)
As I said earlier…this reoccurring theme, (within my reading that mysteriously keeps popping up,) forced me to take on the challenge of discovering what (new) life-lesson I am (really) about to be taught. (Please Lord, may there be another floatation devise involved!!)
Prayers being said, I’ve taken all my scribble-scrabble notes of impactful reading moments and laid them out on the mental table; in an effort to settle the distracted muddy-watered thoughts, (hoping) to discover what this reoccurring theme is paddling me toward.
Besides an array of very decorative chicken-scratch, an important question did eventually emerge. *This post will be a miss-mash of my chicken-doodle (no noodles) notes!
“What am I longing for?”
Always drawn to contemplative life, even as a young child, I fantasized about joining our local Carmelite Order. I use to tell my mother I was going for a bike ride “just through the neighborhood;” but would sometimes sneak along a dirt pathway I’d discovered, which led to the Monastery and spend quiet time in the Chapel looking for the peace the women behind those walls were courageous enough to discover!
Solitude has always felt romantic to me. An intimate moment with self and God. Ironically, most of us crave solitude. As our lives grow more pressured, as we grow more tired, and as we begin to talk more about the day we’ve just been sucked through we imagine solitude as a peaceful, quiet opportunity, where we are walking by a lake, watching a sunset, or rocking contently on our front porch.
But even here, many times we make solitude yet another activity, something we do!
“Solitude, however, is a form of awareness. It’s a way of being present and perceptive within all of life. It’s having a dimension of reflectiveness in our daily lives that brings with it a sense of gratitude, appreciation, peacefulness, enjoyment, and prayer. It’s the sense, within ordinary life, that life is precious, sacred, and…enough.”
Life is enough!
Henri Nouwen once said that by touching the center of our solitude, we sense that we have been touched by loving hands. Deep inside each of us, like a brand, there is a place where God has touched, caressed, and kissed us. When our ear is pressed to God’s heart – to the breast of all that is good, true, and beautiful – we hear a certain heartbeat and we remember, remember in some rudimentary place, at a level beyond thought, that we were once gently kissed by God.
“Archetypally this is what’s deepest within us. There is an ancient legend that holds that when an infant is created, God kisses its soul and sings to it. As its guardian angel carries the soul to earth to join its body, she also sings to it. The legend says God’s kiss and his song, as well as the song of the angel, remain in that soul forever – to be called up, cherished, shared, and to become the basis of all of our songs.”
To feel that kiss, to hear that song, requires awareness brought forth from paddling out into the deep water of solitude, perceptive and in awe of the sacredness which swirls all around us, no matter the calm or turbulent waters our life may currently be traversing through.
This is the solitude I have longed for, that I sought courage to claim…because my life is enough for me.
(And somewhere in the chaos and pain of life I’d lost that.)
The sound of God’s heartbeat is audible only in this certain solitude and in the gentleness it brings. The gentleness of ‘the present moment,’ of acceptance in ‘what is,’ and the trust in ‘what will be.’
John of the Cross once defined solitude as “bringing the mild into harmony with the mild.” That was his way of saying that we will begin to remember the primordial touch of God when, through solitude, we empty our hearts of all that is not mild, (pain, sorrow, distrust, pride & bitterness.) When we become mild, we will remember that we have been touched by loving hands and, like the Beloved Disciple, we then will have our ear to the heartbeat of Christ.
Inside each of us there is a church, a place of worship, a sanctuary not made by human hands. And it is a gentle place, a virgin place, a holy place, a place where there is no sense of being harmed, no need for confusion, or to distrust, and no need to be restless. It is a soft place; that can remain inviolate, sacred, and untouched, even when abused and violated.
It is in that place, entered into through solitude and gentleness of spirit, that we have a privileged access to God, because that is the place where God has already touched us and where we, however dimly, remember that. We were once touched by hands far gentler and more loving than our own. The memory of that touch is like sinking into deep waters: warm, dark, gentle. To enter this memory is to lean on the breast of Christ, just as the Beloved Disciple did at the Last Supper. From that place, with our ear on Christ’s heart, we have the truest perspective on what we long for.
My own very private muddy-waters of confusion regarding: ‘being a gentle-minded person,’ have not always been in harmony with ‘being a gentle-minded soul.’ For too long now my soul has been touched by heart-ache and pain and I know, (I trust,) my God is touching me with his loving hand while singing into my ear…”at last empty your heart of all that is no longer mild and rest here upon my breast.”
And in the deep waters (of all that this lesson has taught me)…I am floating.
Floating On solitude,
On my life being enough.
hugs n’ blessings in these deep waters I share with you!