Where do I need to stay when everything in me wants to flee?

As soon as I began asking myself this question, one answer came to me, but I wasn’t brave enough to write about it.

Silence. Silence is the place I need to stay, yet everything in me wants to flee into my thoughts.

How could I admit that to you when I write a contemplative blog and teach about centering prayer and the value of silence and solitude?

Often when I try to pray my brain won’t quit thinking. I face the same problem when I want to sleep. I try focusing on my breath, but just when I begin to feel sleepy, I can’t maintain my focus and slip back into thinking again.

“There’s a skittishness in me when it comes to opening to silence. I’m nervous about something, but I don’t know what,” I told my spiritual director.

She gave me space to welcome my skittishness and God’s presence with me there. The image that came to mind was that my skittishness was like a cat and God was sitting with it, completely relaxed and stroking it. The cat was loving it, her head pushing up against God’s hand.

I felt myself relax as I held that picture and knew I didn’t have to figure out what I was skittish about. It was enough to name it and be with God in it, and then I realized–

“This is prayer!” I said to my director. The very thing I desired and could not do, I entered into simply by naming my reality and being with God in it.

We paused there to take that in.

“How do you see your skittishness now?” my director asked.

“As something to be honoured.”

She waited for me to continue.

“At first, I saw it as something to get rid of, but it’s kind of like the dead logs on the forest floor. In one part of the book The Overstory, a botany professor said that they need to clear the forest floor to help the trees grow. But the botanists that had come to deeply love the forest and listen to the trees knew that a decomposing log gives life to the forest. It’s as if my skittishness is something in me decomposing and giving life to me. Just as I never see that slow work in the forest, I may not see it in myself. But eventually, I will see the results of it.”

So I sat this morning in silence, pressing my head against God’s hand while my mind flitted here and there, decomposing something or other.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

My friend and Living from the Heart co-facilitator Brent Unrau wrote, “Had a rough patch on Sunday mood-wise until I stumbled upon this light-infused leaf of awe, wonder and still calm. Somehow this little atriplex copper plume leaf bathed in late afternoon sun ushered me into the healing balm of fall. Please take some time to slow yourself down and drink in the veins, the colour, the mood of this leaf, and see how it affects your heart.”
Thank you, Brent!

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

Credits and References:
“Charlie” by Lois Elling. Used with permission.
“Forest” (Wisconsin State Forest by Joshua Mayer. Used with permission.
“Artiplex leaf” by Brent Unrau. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.

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 Prayer, Reflections, Spiritual Direction, Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Decomposing

  1. I love this Esther and I love you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Esther….this was forwarded to me by my friend Maureen.
    Love the theme of decomposition, like compost in the garden giving life to next seasons growth. The decomposing logs nursing the renewal of the forest.
    We too decomposing and renewing.
    A beautiful and reflective piece. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.