This weekend in the country the quiet outside echoed the quiet inside me where it didn’t matter at all if I was reading or semi-napping or playing solitaire on my phone or cleaning up after myself and our retreat this weekend. I was really at peace with myself, with time, with undone things, knowing deep inside me that it would all happen in the right time and place. Quiet inside and quiet outside…..absent noise, absent anxiety.
No anxiety is a stunner! I have fed on my own anxiety, lived by it, been true to it, let it rule my life. Anxiety is all outer stimuli—all the shoulds that a proper and well-brought-up person knows by heart. Anxiety is embedded deep in our cells as children and forever tries to keep us on the right track as we move through childhood and then adulthood, following the cultural dictates, the cultural way of doing things, keeping to the culture’s goals and way of life.
How very hard it is to hear another voice when anxiety and the “shoulds” hold sway. They drown out the soft murmurings of the soul, the quiet voice of the Spirit, which would lead us to God and to our own true selves. It’s funny/ironic that we should be so engaged in the culture that we cannot hear our own true self calling us. When we look to the cultural solutions which all seem to be about greed or fear today, and it has been our pattern for years to deny ourselves in favor of the culture, it is hard to value the solutions that our soul/Spirit offers us.
They seem simple and naïve, even, easily judged and written off by the cultural standards. But if we begin to ask ourselves, “What do I really want to do now or in this situation?” and heed our deepest self’s advice, we find that what seemed simple and naïve is really fulfilling and directs us to our true longings. There will never be enough money or things to satisfy us, but following our deepest self’s agenda will bring a deep satisfaction and connection to our self that eventually results in a deep quiet within.
My list, the first time I listened without judgment to what I really wanted to do, was mundane and certainly not “spiritual” or “religious.” The only thing I remember now is that I wanted to take a style course in hopes of learning what kind of clothes would look best on me. I had determined that I would do the whole list, not judging it at all, so I ticked off each one in turn. I’ve probably forgotten all I learned in that style course, but I have not forgotten how it felt to be getting to know who I really was, to be getting to know myself for the first time(at the age of 40!). I had no idea where the question, “What do I really want to do?”, would lead me, but I trusted that God had me firmly in hand and would not let me go astray.
Now years later I still ask the question because I know from long experience that my life has been adventurous and connected to God and fulfilling and purposeful. There have been the things I have learned—speaking, writing, and connecting to my creative self, the books I have read that have inspired and challenged and formed me, the trips I have taken, the people I have conneced to, the tasks set before me that I have come up to the plate and done. It’s been a treat and a half and a wonder and Spirit-led and deeply connecting me to all life, an adventure above all as I never know where God will lead me next.
I still have my responsibilities, my family, my church, things that put me knee-deep in the culture as well as knee-deep in the Spirit, but I am content.