God’s been calling me lately. As the blasted earth bakes and leaves wither on their branches; as they drop ungracefully to the ground, bleached and crunchy three months before the proper time; as big, billowy clouds form and dissipate listlessly amid gray-brown-blue skies impenetrable with humidity; as priceless, fleeting storms direct their energy southward (mostly) and northward (occasionally); as tempers fray and human interaction shrinks to the confines of air-conditioned walls; as overcommitment saps energy and it’s a struggle to get through every day for weariness. Suddenly, the beauty of the many Scriptural references to lush earth and flowing water seem so profound.
He is like a tree planted near running water, That yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. (Ps. 1)
In verdant pastures he gives me repose; Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul. (Ps. 23)
God’s been calling me lately, whispering that I’ve neglected the solitude and silence and refreshment my soul needs, but I didn’t recognize it until I began reading Henri Nouwen:
“Without prayer, we become deaf to the voice of love and become confused by the many competing voices asking for our attention. How difficult this is! When we sit down for half an hour–without talking to someone, listening to music, watching television, or reading a book–and try to become very still, we often find ourselves so overwhelmed by our noisy inner voices that we can hardly wait to getbusy and distracted again. Our inner life often looks like a banana tree full of jumping monkeys!”
“Often we are so restless and so unable to find inner quietude that we can’t wait to get busy again, thus avoiding the confrontation with the chaotic state of our minds and hearts. Still, when we remain faithful to our discipline, even if it is only ten minutes a day, we gradually come to see…that there is a space within us where God dwells…”
It’s far too hot to be outside, and there are far too many obligations screaming for attention. But my soul, the core of who I am, feels like a sickly reflection of the earth all around me: oppressed, overwhelmed by forces beyond my control. God is calling me away to rest, if only for an hour. Today, I will answer.
(Henri Nouwen quotes from The Essential Henri Nouwen, edited by Robert A. Jonas)