What Am I Waiting For?

John the Baptist gecomprimeerd Geertgen tot Sint Jans wikimediaAs I mentioned last week, stillness is not something I easily gravitate toward. When I do try to be still, fleeting and few are the moments when I’m walking on water,” blissfully free from distraction. Even though I know (and teach) that God is doing something on a deeper level, and the success of the prayer is measured by the fruit that appears in our lives, lately I’ve found my life less peaceful. I seem to be going through a season in which I’m acutely aware of my shortcomings.

One evening–at the time of day when I’m more prone to be inundated with self-deprecating thoughts–an idea came to me. What if my prayers are making me more aware of the dogged disappointment I feel? Could God be wanting to do something with this awareness?

The thought returned the next morning when I sat down to pray. I reached for some encouraging words from Anthony de Mello and read about a young man who found centering prayer frustrating but persisted with it. Finally six months later, he began to experience change. De Mello writes,

“This constant, painful, distraction-ridden attempt he was making day after day to expose himself to what seemed to be nothingness and emptiness, to attempt to just quiet his mind and attain some sort of silence through concentration on body sensations or breathing or sounds, was bringing him a new power in his daily living that he hadn’t noticed there before–and power in so great a measure that its presence in his life was unmistakable.”

De Mello goes on to say,

“This is one of the major benefits of this form of prayer: a change in oneself that seems effortless. All the virtues you formerly tried to attain through the exercise of your will power seem to come to you effortlessly now–sincerity, simplicity, kindliness, patience . . .  Addictions seem to drop off without the need for resolutions and effort on one’s part. . .”

As soon as I read that, I remembered how I felt about the virtues I haven’t attained and the addictions I can’t control. Then another thought came to me: what if God just wants to give me what I desire?

God wasn’t drawing attention to my shortcomings in order to scold me, nor was God minimizing them. Instead, God wants to save me from them–even if that simply means finding a way to be at peace with who I am.

This is what I am waiting for.

sunrise Carlo Scherer Flickr

It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
–Lamentations 3:26

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

candlesFred and I attend an Imago Dei group where we gather with other Christian contemplatives for fellowship, worship, sharing, and prayer. Twenty minutes of our time together is dedicated to silent prayer. We are greatly encouraged by this love mischief, and in all the years we have been meeting, no one has ever asked that we shorten or skip this portion of the evening–even though some have fallen asleep and even snored! Many find it easier to pray in silence with others present. De Mello writes, “Silence, when it is deep, can unite.” We have found this to be true and treasure the sense of love and unity we’ve experienced. If you are ever in the Tri-Cities area of Vancouver on a Thursday night and want to join us, let us know. You’d be more than welcome.

 What love mischief are you and God doing to care for the earth?
 Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
Geertgen tot Sint Jans (circa 1460-circa 1488) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Sadhana A Way to God: Christian Exercises in Eastern Form by Anthony de Mello, Image Books 1984, p.57.
“Another Day in Paradise” by Carlo Scherer. Used with permission.
“Candles” by Arne Hulstein. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2016.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.  http://www.estherhizsa.com

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Mystical, Poverty of Spirit, Prayer, Reflections, Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What Am I Waiting For?

  1. Michael R Cook says:

    Thank you for this Esther, it describes my own recent fumbing attempts at silent prayer, and gives me hope that it is not a waste of time. DeMello is someone I must read something substantial by, what would you recommend? (I love the painting too). Blessings, Michael


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Esther Hizsa says:

    Hi Michael,
    Nice to hear from you. Yes that painting says so much. Fred loved it.
    I would recommend Father Thomas Keating’s Open MInd, Open Heart and attending a retreat or course offered by Contemplative Outreach. That helped me a lot.
    I started reading Anthony de Mello’s Sadhana this summer. In it he offers ways to pray and I have been praying with one of the awareness prayers and so haven’t moved on to some of the others. The Jesuit who oversees giving of the Spiritual Exercises Retreat in Daily Life recommended it.


  3. Sylvia says:

    When people talk about “getting into the zone”, the zone you describe sounds like one I would find worth attaining. It sounds as if there is some effort to keep going there and waiting expectantly, yet when it happens, the effort is no longer palpable if not at all.


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