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Facing ourselves

by davesandel on December 24th, 2011

Practices from Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton

From Chaper 9, “Facing Ourselves”

Solitude is the furnace of transformation … (It) is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter – the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the living God who offers himself as the substance of the new self. – Henri Nouwen

As you enter into silence today, take several deep breaths as a way of settling into these moments and becoming aware of God’s presence with you – closer to you than your breath.

When you feel ready, hear God ask you the question he asked Elijah.  What are you doing here, __________________?  Sit quietly with the question, allowing it to penetrate all the way to the core of your being.

Allow your response to this question to emerge from your heart without trying to edit it.  You may want to write your response in your journal, you may want to respond with spoken words, or you may need to just experience the emotion that comes.  The point is to communicate with God as honestly as you can about what is drawing you deeper and deeper into solitude right now.  It may be serious and weighty, but it doesn’t have to be.  Most recently when God asked me this question in solitude, it did not stir up the chaos I described earlier.  This time my honest answer was:

I am here because I have been very zealous for the Lord, for what appear to be his purposes.  Today there is no sadness, no discouragement, not even the familiar loneliness.  There is this sense that everything is as it should be, but sometimes my zealousness gets the better of me and I push for what is not quite ready to come.  I feel a familiar frenetic quality to my activity that indicates I am not as grounded as I would like to be.  I am here because I need to find the ground of my being again.

For right now, let it be enough to say what is true about you and then just wait in God’s presence.

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