I’m practicing the discipline of silence. Spending time in the quiet. Just me and the mysteries of the spiritual. Why is silence so hard? Easy. It’s like giving my mind free reign to wage a maniac compulsive thinking spree. This is why it’s hard for me to ‘be still and precisely why I need to meditate more.
When I’m silencing the pounding blood in my being to a soft lull, I start to panic. I feel lazy. Like I’m not saving the world or meeting a deadline or putting another load of laundry in or following up on emails. But once I get passed that, everything is okay. Silence invites me into her loving arms and begs me to stay awhile. “It’s your daily does of goodness,” she says with a wink in her eye and a tray of chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. And when I listen to her and follow her voice, I know she’s right.
I laid on the floor today. Closed my eyes. Rested my head in the lap of a world without tasks, deadlines, networking events, fears, doubts, questions, tears, loneliness, and the steady tick of a clock. I was quiet for a while and as solitude took her beautiful course, the thought came to me, “Where are you going?”
Normally I would have an answer for that because my daily routine is pretty planned out so I know what I’m doing at hourly intervals…i.e. today I know in 30 minutes I have to run out to Target and buy ice cube trays and apple cider vinegar…then I have to return my library books…then go home and work on a chapter for a client …you get my drift.
A few years ago I would have told you exactly where I was going with my life. ‘Matter of fact, I recently read a journal entry in 2002 where I wrote something like “I will kill myself if I don’t become a NY Times bestselling author by the time I’m thirty.” I also remember having lunch for the first time with my now one-of-my-best-friends when she candidly blurted out, “I have a feeling you’ll be married at twenty-seven” and I almost choked that country bumpkin with my Jersey claws because I was twenty-two at the time and thought FOR SURE living in the Bible Belt would guarantee me a marriage license at MAXIMUM twenty-five.
Needless to say, life happens. Today, at the tender age of thirty-three, I can say I’m not sure where I’m going. It’s not an ambiguous answer because of my lack of enthusiasm for the future, or because I have no long-term goals, or because I’m apathetic or hopeless. It’s just because, for the first time in my life, I don’t know. And that excites me! I catch glimpses of what’s possible every now and again…a seductive taste to keep me from pigeon-holing myself and to, like Henri Nouwen, said “create a space in which something can happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on.”
This is where silence has brought me. To a humility about tomorrow—that it might never come and if it does, I still won’t know for sure what it will bring. To a peace (sometimes overwhelming, sometimes barely beating, but nonetheless always there) that as long as I am doing my best to keep healthy (in all ways), continue in my seeking out of faith (with revelation and without a clue), and love others as I want to be loved…whatever joys, surprises, beauty, divine intervention, and purposed events that are mine to enjoy will unravel, unfold, and open up at the right time.
Where am I going? Definitely somewhere.