“We are not integrated. We are distraught. We feel honestly the pull of many obligations and try to fulfill them all. And we are unhappy, uneasy, strained, oppressed and fearful we shall be shallow. For over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living which we know we are passing by. Strained by the mad pace of our daily outer burdens, we are further strained by an inward uneasiness, because we have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power. If only we could slip over into that Center!”
Father Thomas Kelly
“A Testament of Devotion”
Father Thomas Kelly is a 92 year-old priest credited with re-introducing the world to Center Prayer, an ancient Christian contemplative prayer technique we often practice on Seeking Stillness retreats. The Center he references to in the quote from his classic book, “A Testament of Devotion” is none other than God Himself.
It is in our relationship with God and through our time with Him, that we begin to realize the futility of our crazy, busy, ego-striving, got-to-take-care of everyone, lives. Only God can calm us down. Only God can help us sense what is truly important. Only God can help us see a way of living in this broken world that does not compromise our relationships with other people, with ourselves, and with others. Only God can help us get rid of the “should” in our lives – the guilty and the shame and the sense of unrealistic obligation.
We feel the tension between God’s way for us and the world’s way for us. The inner rumblings keep us up at night. They motivate to search scripture for ways to live. They help us discern what God would have us do. But, they are also like the “thorn” in Paul’s flesh as he describes it in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9:
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
God knows the inner rumblings – the tension between His ways and those of the world – are difficult for us. He calls us to a closer and closer relationship with Him so that we can deal with this weakness and tension. Through that relationship He helps us fully realize that, through His grace, He will give us the power to live humbly and differently than others around us.
My prayer is that in this new year, we will each be drawn into a deeper relationship with God and through it we will find peace, finding a way to live in this world without being conformed to it (Romans 12:2). May we be renewed and refreshed instead of exhausted and stressed out.
Happy New Year!
Reminder – the next Seeking Stillness Retreat is April 29-May 1 at Our Lady of the Pines in Fremont, Ohio. Go to www.seekingstillness.org for a registration form. Partial scholarships are available.