This one’s proving a bit difficult for me to write to you, maybe because it means peeling back even more layers of vulnerability.
Do you remember a couple weeks ago when I shared with you the image of an animal creature that cropped up for me — and how I knew the animal creature was me? (If you’re new to the Sunday Quiet, you can read that letter here.)
I’ve been continuing to sit with that image. And I’m coming to realize that doing so is my necessary spiritual practice right now.
Here’s how I know.
When I’m going about my normal day, the weight of the brokenness I’m experiencing in a particular context of my life right now nearly does me in. It’s always there, buzzing around in the back of my head, and I turn to it pretty often throughout the day, nursing the pain and getting all tangled up and confused by its complexity and contradictions. When I lay in bed at night, the noise becomes even louder. I get stifled and can hardly breathe. I feel confused and lost and sad and angry and alone.
But then there’s the image of this animal creature. When I visit that image, I still see Jesus there. He’s sitting cross-legged on the ground, and this odd creature that I am still cannot get enough of his good presence. Still I am scampering around and prancing in his presence. Still I’m clambering all over his chest and shoulders. I see this animal creature smiling.
And in the last few days, I’ve noticed another shift. Rather than dance and prance and clamber, I’ve crawled into his lap. Sometimes I lay there and just breathe, in and out. Sometimes I rest my head on his arm and look up into his face.
There’s peace here. Stillness. Love.
In his arms, I experience the welcome and patience of Jesus to be with me in the reality of what caused me to become an odd, hairy mix of animals in the first place: the reality of pain.
And in this place, time ceases to exist. I can lay here, resting, as long as I need. I can look up into his face and receive him smiling over me for as long as I need. I can tell him, in quiet tones, the truth of my heart and my experience with as much bravery as I need.
It’s such a different experience than what I normally experience of myself in relation to this area of pain. Normally, there’s the buzz of noise constantly goading me to hurry up and get moving. Normally, I feel like I’m running the track of a cycle that never resolves itself or quits.
It exhausts me. And it doesn’t lead me anywhere.
With Jesus, it isn’t like that. It isn’t like that at all. In his arms, there’s no ticking of an impatient and watchful clock. There’s no reproving glance.
Jesus wants me to receive the gift of his presence toward me that isn’t goading or hurrying me along. But you know what? I’m finding that receiving this gift of his presence is hard. I’m used to the familiar racing track that goes nowhere and yet judges me. The grooves of my mind are used to the constant refrain of judgment. I’m used to pushing myself along with impatience and exasperation.
Choosing to rest in the peaceful, patient arms of Jesus is just that: a real choice. It’s an actual spiritual discipline. In this act is my healing, even if it takes a really long time to get there.
Do you have any particular spiritual practice right now?