I made a decision. I decided I'm going to listen to my heart. This listening thing is still a work in progress and I'm by no means an expert at it but its been an interesting journey over the course of two short months. One of the places its taken me is to a Benedictine monastery in Schuyler, Nebraska where I strolled along cornfields, took part in a conversation with a monk about his love and appreciation of Jennifer Hudson and spent a lot of time praying in a room full of (mostly) complete strangers. If it all sounds weird to you as a reader that's OK. It sounds a little strange to me too and I experienced it.
Maybe it's not that strange though. I knew many years ago that my passion and curiosity for The Bible was something I needed to pursue. It was something I tried to ignore and talk myself out of.
"You've been in sales your entire career," I'd tell myself. "You're not qualified. You don't have the credentials. You have no idea what you're doing and on top of that you're a single mom - when are you going to have the time to do this "ministry" work?"
There was a louder voice though. This one came from my heart.
It wasn't loud to begin with. As a matter of fact it started out pretty quiet and friendly. It was this spot right in the center of my heart, and it would gently say, "Hey, what if we try this ministry thing?" I'd ignore it.
Just like some of you reading this are ignoring that ______ (fill in the blank with the thing your heart is calling you to do).
The thing about the heart though is that's where so much good stuff comes from; love, compassion, courage and so it got a little louder and seemed to have picked up some confidence from somewhere. I'd quickly put it in its place and tell it to shut up and follow that command with a list of rational explanations why I couldn't possibly do anything it was trying to talk me in to. Eventually that little spot in the center started to spread to my whole heart and one day it started yelling at me, "THERE'S GOT TO BE MORE THAN THIS! THIS THING YOU'RE DOING, IT ISN'T 'YOU'RE THING.' FOR CRYING OUT LOUD I'M DYING IN HERE AND I'M TAKING YOUR SOUL DOWN WITH ME! DO THE THING I'M TELLING YOU TO DO."
My heart actually cussed me out a few times while sitting in traffic on my way home there toward the end of June. I gave in and decided to make room for possibilities and made some major changes at work as a result.
That's not to say that I have things anywhere close to figured out. I'm actually in the middle of completely freaking out as I sit here and type this. The changes I made require major financial adjustments and a whole lotta trust that I'm actually on the right path. I had at least 20 arguments with myself today about my decision and each argument was resolved with my heart saying,"You have to at least try. Maybe you'll fall flat on your face. Maybe you won't. You will 100% regret turning back now and you were just in Nebraska woman! Remember Nebraska!"
Oh yes, Nebraska! The weekend was facilitated and lead by the founders of Gravity, Phileena and Chris Heuertz. (Amazing people doing amazing work y'all!) Gravity offers three contemplative retreats. Grounding, the one I attended, is for those that are new to Contemplative Spirituality.
I went in with few expectations and the intention to learn more about Contemplative Prayer in order to bring new information and offerings to my community. There was so much greatness packed in to the weekend! I left with new found appreciation of:
Solitude, as a vehicle that causes us to be present.
Silence, as a pathway to listening.
and Stillness because it leads to discernment.
When was the last time you found yourself in solitude, silence and stillness? Here's one to try as provided and shared by Chris and Phileena.
Maybe you'll hear a new message from your heart when you do.
- Find a quiet place, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
- Either aloud or quietly to yourself, say the words, “Be still and know that I am God.”
- After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be still and know that I am.”
- After a couple deep breaths, pray “Be still and know.”
- After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be still.”
- After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be.”
- When ready, pray, “Amen.”
Gravity offers these steps and a guide through audio and video versions of this prayer that are very helpful. You can find them on their site here.
May your days be filled with compassion, your faith remain strong and may growth be your compass.
Reference material used for this blog in addition to my very loud heart came from: Gravity a Center for Contemplative Activism My deepest gratitude to Danielle, Marlon and Jack for believing in me and making this trip a reality.