Setting a “pause” button today. Not to stop listening deeply to those who feel frightened and angry after the election results this week in the US. In fact the title of this post, Come to the Quiet, should not be interpreted as an indirect desire to muzzle dissent and protest, or the jubilation of the other side.
But I feel a need to not only listen today to those around me, and to love them well though perhaps disagreeing, but also to listen deeply to my own heart. What is inside me? What hidden (or not so hidden) racism or smugness is in my own spirit? Today I read on Facebook (yes I’m still on) a not so veiled attempt at ironic humor that really was a strong bash at the other side. Lots of hearts are being revealed in these days, on all sides.
A few months ago I went with my family to Joshua Tree National Park in California. (Acompanying photo to this post is from there). We got there just before sunrise. It was completely, eerily silent. No birds yet, only our own voices, offered with suitable restraint. We had truly Come to the Quiet. Yet less than 100 miles away was one of the largest population centers in the world, Los Angeles. A city filled constantly with noise of every kind. There was such a hush in my spirit that day, a deep silence the desert can bring.
I feel that way today. So many voices, so much emotion on every side. People sure of an apocalyptic future, people sure they know what God wants or is doing. I’m not so sure. Today I’m searching my own heart to see what is within. That process may not bring any outward answers to the confusion so many feel, but it can purify my heart to be an instrument of peace and love for my neighbors around me no matter their political or religious persuasions.
I’m reading right now (timely) a small book by Thomas Merton titled Wisdom of the Desert. It is a collection of sayings from the 4th century Desert Fathers and Mothers, particularly in Egypt. In his introduction, Merton has these words: “We cannot do exactly what the monks in Egypt did. But we must be as thorough and as ruthless in our determination to break all spiritual chains, and cast off the domination of alien compulsions, to find our true selves, to discover and develop our inalienable spiritual liberty and use it to build, on earth, the Kingdom of God.”
Going inward may not mean we stop protesting, or celebrating, the election of Donald Trump as President for the next four years. But as we Come to the Quiet and first listen for our true self as created in the image of God, breaking our attachments and chains to alien compulsions, we will have the spiritual resources to love well and dearly those around us.