Embracing Mystery, Despite Fear

So, yet again, I have been absent. I do not have a lot to say. And really, right now, I feel God inviting me into the silence. I sense there is something for me here, some gift on the other side of this mystery.

And yet I struggle in fear. If I do not preside over this space, will I be forgotten? Will I be reduced to what little my latest string of posts have offered? So much growth has happened in this place in two and a half years. This is a place I've poured my the fullness of my journey. A place I've wrestled with questions larger than life. A place I've practiced honesty and risk. A place I've found community and grace.

But always the question: what have I offered here lately? And the answer is: not much. Although much has happened internally, it hasn't been shared here. And if it hasn't been shared here, written out for my own heart to see and for others to receive, did it really happen? Perhaps all writers ask themselves this question.

Kirk and I took a drive the other night. It was a drive along highways, lakesides, and back country roads. We called it "The Drive of Psalms" and made it a time of spontaneous prayer and confession. We talked out loud to God, and then we talked to each other. It was long and meandering and full of questions held openly and gently. Toward the end of our time together in that car, I remarked aloud, "You know this, that we've been doing here? It's got a slowness full of life. It feels like the true rhythm of our life together."

Slow. Rhythmic. Gentle and open. Questions and confession and prayer and shared hearts, with each other and with God.

A few days ago I finished my second class at Spring Arbor. It was a class on the spiritual disciplines, and it was incredibly rich, full of so many gems that I'll be mining for some time yet to come.

The capstone project for this class was a large-scale paper that explored many facets of the class: resources I'd located along the way in order to teach the material to others, meditations on Scripture and a bodily fast I'd conducted for eight weeks, and reflections on how God had been working to transform my life and heart through the practices of the past two months. It was a lengthy and deepening endeavor, and it took the whole of me to complete it.

On the night I completed it, I curled up in our recliner chair in the library nook, a lamplight burning on the table beside me, the kitties resting nearby. I opened a book I hadn't read in some time and simply embraced the quiet. As I read, my mind absorbed the beautiful story but also, from time to time, began wandering into thoughts and territories I hadn't explored for some time. It was responding to quiet, feeling the expanse and beginning to walk around in it.

I watched where it wandered and felt the goodness of doing so. I haven't offered myself much room to breathe and explore and simply turn up questions I don't rush to answer. So much of my time has felt managed, so much of my soul has felt managed, so much of my future has felt managed . . . all by hands that are my own and that feel the fear of the mystery of God.

One of the things I confessed during our drive of psalms was this self-management of my life. I worry and tend to the future and wonder just how much God wants to actively unfold it. I struggle to trust him with too much control because giving up my own worry and management of my life might mean I get left alone and out in the cold. He might not show up. He might do nothing. He might not lift a finger, and then what opportunities might I lose?

I feel something at work deep inside that I can't name or quantify. I don't know what it is. I need to let it happen. And I need to surrender what I cannot do while that work is taking place, which is, partly, keeping the content coming along the way. I simply don't know how to talk about it. Not yet. I wonder if I ever will.

Last night I was reading in Sue Monk Kidd's book When the Heart Waits, where she talks about the deep stillness the soul needs to move forward. Speaking of her own journey to embrace stillness, she says, "Overcoming my resistance to waiting meant coming to terms with the 'still journey.' I would have to give up the compulsion to keep my line moving at the world's pace. I would need to find my own pace, one that flowed with the rhythms of the earth and the Spirit, not with the frenzy of modern life. Our inner clocks tick at a much slower speed than that of society. Slowing our feet, our minds, our desires, our impulses -- stilling those things that drive us into faster and faster patteerns of living -- will help open us to the transforming experience of waiting. . . . Here's the paradox: we achieve our deepest progress standing still."

I guess all this is meant to say that I feel myself getting in touch with the true rhythm of my deep heart. It does indeed move slower than the pace of the world, and that scares me. If I respond to what is needed inside, I risk becoming irrelevant and lapsing into obscurity.

This is the tension that I face today: saying yes to my soul's true rhythm and needs, or keeping to the path that is more outward and more known.

Right now, I'm embracing the mystery of the inner journey. I pray for God to give me the grace to continue into the depths of what He is building and creating and growing inside of me, no matter how long it takes.