How strange it is that the mute button has recently become a guardian angel in my life, a protector and shield. I have begun to look with ‘slight’ disdain on all those things that beep at me. All that chirps, clangs,dings, hoots and even sings–all those little noises that tell me someone is trying to get my attention. It may, of course, be a very nice SOMEONE. All I’m saying is that I find it overwhelming to be always available. And that’s why I sometimes close the door to my daily life and move into a cave of sorts, a place apart, a monk cell, a forest solitude. I go to a place where there is no one around but me; and that too can be problematic. The phone, the radio, the television, all social media may be muted but the mind keeps sending me a thousand voices.
When those thousand voices attack me I sometimes like to close my eyes and bring back a memory of a moment in time when I was able to abide in the shelter of God’s Presence. e.g. I close my eyes and see the beautiful sculptor of St. Walburga at St. Walburga Abbey in Virginia Dale, Colorado. The memory is of a place where I once spent a short season trying to mute the noises in my life. There she stands in the gloaming with her abbess staff and her flask of oil, heralding the possibility of being quiet and most of all, being still.
In our efforts to learn how to be silent we sometimes forget how important it is that we also honor the need to be still, motionless, not moving at all. How difficult it is to stand silent and unmoving with our flask of oil which is our very being and let God anoint our restless hearts.
Recently I had another attack of daily life and felt a need to push the mute button. This time I found myself in our community House of Prayer, Hesychia. Hesychia is a Greek word meaning inner stillness. I couldn’t wait to get into my hermitage yet after I settled in, inner stillness did not arrive to welcome me. Instead, the thousand voices showed up.
What to do! First of all, I made the effort to sit very still and just breathe. I believe that my breath is the breath of God, thus the simple practice of honoring the breath of God, on loan to me, became a very helpful practice. Secondly, I am a believer in BURNING BUSHES. I see all of creation as a burning bush. On my second day in the hermitage I attempted to calm my thousand voices by intentionally focusing on one burning bush at a time, again simply gazing at it from my window.
I am sharing a few of my burning bushes with you because I believe that you, too, might be someone who needs, on occasion, to press the mute button and find a little hut to just be still. To just BEHOLD this gift of God and not try to send your burning bush to a friend via a text! To mute or not to mute; that is the question!
While at the hermitage I was reading the book, HEAVEN BEGINS WITHIN YOU by Anselm Gruen, A quote from the book rang true in my heart and invited me to pray with my struggles. Here are the words that saved me from boredom during my retreat.
“WHEREVER MY GREATEST PROBLEM LIES IS ALSO THE SITE OF MY GREATEST OPPORTUNITIES; THAT IS WHERE MY TREASURE IS.” -Anselm Gruen