2nd day of retreat
I woke up early, about 5:45; the same as yesterday and got up. It was light outside and a cool breeze was coming through the open window that is near my bed. I got me some coffee and a bowl of cereal and sat down in front of a nice window and enjoyed the view.
So I have another seven days of silence, of just sitting and waiting and using Psalm 139 as my lectio, well at least for the time being. I felt a little anxious about that, but I am like that at times. Prayer is not always an easy business since it is in reality a call, a grace, leading to deeper communion with the Presence that accompanies us all the days of our lives. Sitting, being, not thinking, breathing, can be difficult at times, well at least it is for me. Yet perhaps this doing ‘nothing’ is not only one of the hardest things to do, but also perhaps one of the most creative. Alert, but relaxed attention, can be tiring at times and even feel oppressive, because of innate resistance that is often present in me to intimacy, not only with God but also with others.
During these prolonged times of silence is when I experience my own inner fragmentation the strongest and that is when patience needs to be brought consciously to the fore. For it is then that compassion can be learned for oneself, these voices clamoring for attention and must not be fought, but actually embraced and loved because they are part of who I am…. my past walking with me through my life. To fear these inner forms or to try to repress them will only lead to greater spiritual and psychological problems. For truly the deeper our relationship with God, the more truth about oneself is also learned. For humility is all about truth…. and not being overly defensive when these aspects come to the surface is a great boon. The truth does set us free in many ways.
So I went out after breakfast and walked the labyrinth again. Each time the experience is different as is to be expected of course. Before I started I found a very rough stone near to where I was standing and picked it up. It was unpolished, unattractive so I decided to take it with me on my journey and then leave it at the center when I arrived there. I think the stone represented all of the aspects of myself that I still am not at peace about, but needed to leave with the more polished stones, for the so called underdeveloped and darker aspects of ourselves also need to be embraced, for in them is a great deal of creativity that also needs to be released, though again consciously.
The walk this time was wearying and I was tempted to cut it short. Then it came to me what the labyrinth was trying to tell me, that life is often weary….work, relationships and yes even this retreat and it is best to own up to that. Weariness is also an important experience and should not be thrown aside but listened to. So one step at a time I continued my walk… it seemed like forever. On the way back I found the polished stone that I left yesterday and stopped to look at it. On it was two twigs in the form of a perfect cross and I thought that interesting, since the cross is an important part of the Christian faith. In fact the cross and the resurrection are inseparable. A lesson that I am slow at learning and perhaps will be that way until my death. So I picked it up and carried it for a few turns and then put it down…..perhaps I will see it there tomorrow or it will be back in the center again.
Prayer is about facing life as well as being in relationship with the Eternal. For me, it is love that I seek, but it can be sought in ways that attempt to run from the innate pain of existence. Being conscious beings comes with a price. To try to alleviate this pain through lesser loves, in the end will only complicate matters. So yes prayer is not an escape from life but a facing it with all of its rigors and unanswered questions. Along with this, doubt plays an important role, for it calls us to question and deepen our faith.
Lots of twist and turns that is what the labyrinth teaches, yet just take one step at a time, one moment, one breath and learning to move deeper into unknowing. We all have opinions and the tendency is to make them the truth, when in fact “Truth” is what calls us; the goad that can seem unmerciful, yet if my faith is true, then this life is one long birthing into something that hopefully will leave us all eternally astonished.