Lifting of the Fog
I was walking my favorite path along the Oxford canal, pondering deeply, as I usually do this time of year, what kind of year it's been–specifically as it pertains to my spiritual life. Suddenly the question popped into my mind, like the gentle whisper of a friend: What was one thing that kept you from being as close to God as you would have liked this year?
Several answers swirled through my brain as I continued to walk, my knee-high red “wellies” sloshing in the wetness of the dead leaves, the morning fog setting in thick. Somehow the fog seemed to serve as a metaphor for how I’ve felt this year with God. My prayer times–the times I set aside each morning (well, most mornings) to meet with Him–have felt, well, foggy. Maybe it is the hurriedness of city life. Or the tiredness from long nights of writing as a theology student. Or the distractedness of trying to be many places at once. I don’t know. All I know is that what became clear that cold winter’s morn is that a new prayer was shaping in my heart for 2015: Lord, please clear the fog…
How about you?
Is there a thing a two, or perhaps a word or two that you would use to capture this past year–spiritually? Bumpy…grumpy…grim..great? I love the rolling rhythm of each New Year. It’s as if God knew we would need times (every 365 days or so) to look inside the window of our souls, and ask: ‘Hey there precious soul of mine, how are you doing? What’s feeding you? What’s depleting you?’ Some may call this “taking stock” or “checking in.” However we want to think of it, this time of year is a perfect time to allow God to form new prayers in our hearts, new rhythms in our days, new habits in our ways of seeking Him.
A wonderful book I am reading, by Julienne McLean called, Towards Mystical Union, which is a modern commentary on St. Teresa of Avila’s ‘The Interior Castle‘ (which I highly recommend), calls stillness the “essential pathway” to connection to and with God more deeply:
“The essential quality of stillness, of the body, mind, emotions, has the capacity to restore our ability to remember, to recollect, to remain ourselves and not be distracted… That is why prayer, meditation, contemplation are the essential pathways to connecting to, and living within, this deeper dimension.” (32)
These words, to me, present a challenge, but also serve as breath of fresh air to this fog-filled soul: stillness… restoration…. remembering… recollecting… living in deeper dimensions.
I don’t know about you but I need help bringing in and holding on to this quality of stillness in my life as I swim with God against the overwhelming current of our bustling world. I need help in setting aside time, meaningful time, to meet with the Creator of my soul. I need help clearing out the clutter of my heart, so there is room for God’s Truth to run through every fiber of my being, going deep enough to feed, nourish, change.
I love God’s command to the Psalmist,
“Be still and know that I am God. ” (Psalm 90:12)
I pray that as we ask God for the grace and discipline to slow down, making stillness a welcome companion in our lives this year, I pray that He–in our times of prayer and meditation–would give to us a renewed taste of His beauty…splendor…holiness…love…comfort….compassion…that keeps us going back, craving for more.
I realized that towards the end of my morning walk that day, the fog started to lift with glimmers of sunlight–God’s light–breaking through, a seemingly beautiful and soul-warming promise of what kind of a new year it was going to be.