How silence can help you find your calling

Posted on November 22, 2009

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Me: Hello God?  Are you up there?  I need to talk.

God: I’m listening.

Me: So I really want to find my calling, and I have all these ideas, and I keep writing things down, but I don’t know what to do with all the information . . .

God: Well, you can . . .

Me: And then there’s all the stuff I have to do with the kids and the husband, you know?  It makes it hard, God . . .

God: I know my child, I . . .

Me: And life in general is so messy, there are so many distractions.  I mean Facebook alone keeps me busy for hours a day . . .

God: Well, why don’t you . . .

Me: I feel like I can’t focus on anything, everything ringing or jangling in my brain, and nothing comes through . . .

God: I’m beginning to . . .

Me: I wish you would talk to people, like you did in the old days.  Are you listening?  Hello?  Are you even there God?

God: I’ve got another call . . .

So, today, we sat in the back for church.  And as the good Catholics know, sitting in the back means you go up for communion last.  Now, in our church, we pray after receiving communion, basically until the music stops and the priest moves on to the next stage of mass.  Which, if you’re sitting in the back, is not very much time.  I always march into church with my wish list for God: please bless Son1, Daughter, Son2, Husband, make me a better mom, oh yeah and make sure to help Husband be a better husband, he needs the help God, and while you’re at it, you better forgive him, he’s got some little things he’ll be talking to you about, and help Mom feel better and help me . . .

Well, as we did not have any “official” prayer time – after communion and before announcements – I couldn’t go through my prayer wish list.  All I could do was kneel quietly and feel slightly harried.  Which made me think about being silent.  When do we ever just take the time to be silent?  Not just in our relationship with God, but just in our lives, to sit quietly (my fellow moms of young ‘uns know that this may have to occur in a locked bathroom), to allow ourselves to be quiet, without planning, thinking, plotting, angsting or strategizing.  Just sitting quietly.  For me, a vestige of my Cubicle-land time is feeling anxious about looking unproductive.  Typing madly at the computer, talking energetically on the phone or in a meeting, walking about with a clipboard were all acceptable modes of being.  Sitting with a thoughtful look on one’s face . . . not so much.  And yet, how many meetings could have been shortened or avoided, how many emails deleted, if everyone felt brave enough to just sit quietly.  And occasionally think.

In the Christian tradition, there’s a passage from the Bible that goes Be still and know that I am God.  I think the passage suggests that silence, and listening, can help us discover our calling – our own source of divinity – as much as or maybe even more than requesting, speaking, telling God what’s on the wish list.

Similarly, my friends who meditate report amazing breakthroughs in problems they have been noodling over – or they report feeling calmer and less anxious about their problems.

I think sometimes life drives us to be proactive and busy, because proactivity, movement, and visible progress look productive.  Thinking, contemplation, silence look . . . unproductive, lazy, unworthy (unless you are a Buddhist monk).  But all the movement and activity may blind us to the answer that’s sitting right in front of our nose, may keep us from acknowledging a deep need that is too quiet to make itself heard over the cacophony of life.

Sooo – give it a shot.  Is 5 minutes of quiet, without distractions, no reading, no thinking, no list-making, just quiet time doable?  Would love to hear about your experiences.

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NaNoWriMo status: almost 22K, more than I’ve ever written on one paper.  But still so far behind!  More mad typing in my future.

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