Our teaching team hopes that you will be able to use these materials to take further the experience of learning God's hope for you.
If you have any questions, e-mail Steve Whitby, Pastor of Creativity.
Nothing in creation is so like God than stillness. –Meister Eckhart
Yesterday I sat alone, in my little condo at dusk, the filtered gray light streaming through my open window casting shadows from the crepe myrtle onto my hardwood floors littered with ‘stuff.’ Alas, it was packing day for me—a day I’ve recently avoided like my dentist appointments, preferring instead to be in a state of limbo—clinging to what I’m leaving behind instead of moving out—literally, and figuratively into the ‘unknown.’
Sue Monk Kidd in her book, ‘When the Heart Waits’ refers to this interior place as a ‘diapause… where in the moment of our greatest possibility a desperate clinging rises up in us where we make a valiant attempt to ‘save’ our own life…It’s what caterpillars do even when the chrysalis arrives, some resist, and cling to their larval life.’ It wasn’t that I really wanted to stay in my condo…I’ve long known it was time to move on…but strangely, I didn’t want to leave either.
Maybe I don’t like letting go because I sometimes feel caught in the lines of this Earth, like a squeamish child on a ‘tilt-a’ whirl,’ jerked and jarred around to the point of nausea, the uneasy feeling following me even unto solid ground. Do you ever feel this way? For me, the feeling usually comes when I have busied myself to the point of exhaustion (a lot of times filling in the space with ‘good’ things) ,but where the only place left to go is round and round in a state of reaction rather than action because of the volume of stuff surrounding. It’s as if what matters becomes jerked away by life’s frenzied pace, and when I’m honest, I blindly prefer it to stopping.
I continued to sit on the bare floor and began to quietly sort through my ‘stuff,’ growing disquieted by the amount of inconsequential excess I had accumulated. ‘Toss, toss…why on earth did I buy this?’ presented the extent of deep thoughts passing aimlessly through my head as I first began to organize my things in different piles. But then there were other things I came across that caused me to stop as if in mid-motion. I became conscious of longings and emotions represented in memories triggered by things that I usually don’t’ stop long enough to face — things my hands feel clenched around, and reminders of where I tend to measure myself against the unforgiving lines of where I think I ‘should be.’ In the quiet space, I began to face the true reality of my avoidance in letting go.
I usually at this point, get up as quickly as I can and get moving… This is deceptive because it can seem like I am moving ‘on’ or ‘forward’ when I am actually moving ‘away’ from hearing God speak to me in the midst of my discomfort. Today, though, inspired by Bruce’s message talking about the urgency of ‘pausing’ as the integral means of knowing and hearing from God, I allowed my tired back to surrender to the hard surface of my painted walls and did nothing. At first, it really felt like nothing was happening too. I noticed an itch, and I scratched it. I became annoyed at the creaking steps of my upstairs neighbor, ‘Betty.’ And yet I released a deep sigh, and returned to stillness as best as I could. A question effortlessly slipped from my mind to God, ’Where are you leading me? Can I really trust You to fulfill my greatest longings? I didn’t try to conjure an answer, but tried instead to allow the question to just be.
‘It’s a different kind of prayer, a posture of the spirit…,’ as Sue Monk Kidd writes about the power of concentrated stillness. ‘It’s turning oneself upside down so that everything is emptied out and God can flow in. It’s curling up in the fogged spaces of the listening heart, sinking into solitude, wrapping the soul around some little flame of hope that God has ignited. It’s sitting on the window sill of the heart, still and watching. Such interior postures are themselves the prayers that transform, heal, and yield the answers in our waiting.’
As I waited in the space of my ‘upside down’ mess of my condo and my heart, something in me became attuned to God and the universe that is His. I got up, and moved…this time toward hope and the quiet assurance that He is leading me. As I got up, and prepared to leave, the deafening sound of Cicadas from outside rose all around. Leaving, I got into my car, and drove off in peace so different than the agony of when I arrived. On my way to my new home, my vision was caught by the striking beauty of the sunset in hues, of blue, pink and purple. I turned my music off, my senses already occupied by what was happening around me and listened to the beautiful droning sound of Cicadas escorting me home. Incredibly their sound followed me the entire way, as if God in His creation was ushering me into the next step.
Later in the night, I googled Cicadas wanting to make sure it really was them that I was hearing. I learned that their brood arrived this past May to Charlotte after lying dormant in the ground before boring out into the new world ‘singing.’ I paused again, this time out of deep respect for the way in which God was speaking to me. In that moment I sensed what God had been trying to tell me all along… that just like the Cicada’s I was being bore anew too. ‘Something has to die, before it can be reborn,’ I whispered with a serene smile spreading across my lips. God made Himself known to me. Help me, my community, to remember that we must pause in order for us to be attuned to His speaking to my heart and yours. He really is extravagant in His grace.
We’d love to hear from you. Please share with us below your thoughts and insight. We would love to see Take it Further be a place where as a community we dialog, and together we all take the conversation further.
*Note: If you wish, you can look up this and other Bible passages online at youversion.com
Copyright © 2011 Jill Garman