20 October 2009

A feeling of Real Need.

“A feeling of real need is always a good enough reason to pray.”

-Hannah Whitall Smith

God's words through Hannah Whitall Smith, through Brent Bill, through Robin M's blog, What Canst Thou Say, to my ears and eyes.  Prayer is the process spirit uses to minister to us all, if we choose to listen.

I believe if we are able to be still enough, if we practice our faith, then the direction we need is readily available to us.  Prayer is one of the doorways to access that guidance. Meditation, yoga, spending time outdoors, worship, reading, chanting, walking a labyrinth, singing:  these are just some of the other ways I have found access to that spiritual direction over the years.

Sometimes I wonder if it was easier to become still in the pre-technology age.  I can scarcely remember.  What I can recall is the feeling of my first camping trip with my friends, without parents to direct the flow.  The feeling of sitting on a rock next to a stream listening to the water fall over rocks and the wind whisper through the trees.  Even in my pre-Quaker, infantile spiritual state, I knew there were words waiting just beyond my grasp, calling me to be silent, to listen intently, to focus inwardly.

A number of us from Hopewell Centre had the chance to participate in a workshop with Daniel Snyder last August at Baltimore Yearly Meeting's Annual Sessions, and he called us into more intentional awareness of coming into the presence of "the infinite lover of our souls."   It was such a simple, yet such a profound experience, that I left that workshop wanting to teach others how close our access to God is.

"How could you not want to be in a relationship with the infinite lover of your soul." 

As we speed up our lives and struggle to keep pace with the every growing demands on our attention, God exists beyond an artificial veil we construct, calling to us as if through a mist.  Without some daily practice, it is almost impossible to lift that veil, to return to closeness to the Light.

In the workshop, Daniel Snyder invited us to partake of a simple process:  Show up, Tell the Truth, Listen.  I was amazed at the diversity of experience shared by the participants.  Each of us merged Daniel's directions into our own basic understanding of our inner process.  It was a process for returning our awareness to the One who is always Present.  Therefore, as we shared with each other, we each brought our own unique understanding to the group, enriching and encouraging each other.

Show up:  I felt myself walking into the light, palms up to receive it, basking in the warmth and calming strength of that moment.

Tell the truth:  I found myself asking, "Is this the whole truth?  What is beneath this?  And beneath that?  And under that?  Deeper and deeper, desiring to share my soul with the ultimate lover.

Listen: Basking in the warm, healing light, I could only listen deeply, waiting like the child at the foot of Jesus, for the comfort, the wisdom, the guidance.

What a gift!  I who have struggled over the years with the remnants of my programmed protestant background, who have felt the practiced prayers of my childhood to fall short of my need, resting simply and surely in the presence of the divine, feeling loved, cherished and valued.  This was my experience in that workshop, and I have returned to it over and over since.

In the months since the workshop, I have understood texts like the Song of Solomon in a new and deeply moving way.  I have entered a new depth in relationship with the Infinite Unknown.  I have understood Jung's belief that God grows through relationship with our incarnate selves.
If God is the infinite divine lover of my soul (and yours) then my own ability to love and serve knows no bounds.

My ability to move through life serenely and gracefully lies in direct relationship to my ability to lift the veil that separates me from relationship with God.  The God of my understand waits patiently for my return.  A feeling of real need is reason enough to pray.

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