Tag Archives: silence

reflection-God-prayer

Slow me down, Lord

Slow me down, Lord.

Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.

Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.

Give me, amid the confusion of this day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical restoring power of sleep.

Teach me the art of taking minute vacations — of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines from a good book. Remind me each day of the fable of the hare and tortoise, that I may know that the race is not always to the swift — there is more to life than increasing its speed.

Let me look upward into the branches of the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.

Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values, that I may grow toward the start of my greater destiny.

~Richard Cardinal Cushing

We live in a culture that seems obsessed with speed. Our everyday language affirms our preoccupation with speed: we have fast-food restaurants with drive-through windows, expressways and instant messaging. We can’t seem to stop or even slow down.

I recently read that Michigan is increasing the speed limit to 75 miles per hour on several roads because that was how fast people were driving anyway.

Faster is better seems to be our national mantra.

And now we have added busyness to the equation—because moving fast means we finished everything and then, what? Have some empty space in our lives? No time for doing nothing—we have to keep moving and doing.

I think Cardinal Cushing was onto something, though, when he wrote the Slow me down, Lord prayer.

My brother recently visited from Arizona and we went on morning walks at a park on the lake near my house. Swans, ducks and geese swam by as people fished from the shoreline or out in boats. No rush, no hurry, no busyness—just life slowly going by.reflection-God-prayerI can easily fill up my days with lots of activities and then rush around to accomplish as much as possible. But that is not how I want to live. I want to have periods of silence every day, to ponder the glory of creation and to pay attention to the gifts God is giving me.

I want to be available to the people God brings to me, to be able to sit and listen to what they need to say. At the cancer support center where I work, someone invites me every day to slow down, to take a few minutes to listen to their joys and sorrows, the ups and downs of the cancer journey.

 

Slow me down, Lord.reflection-God-prayer

I have no voice

“I have no voice,” I said to myself. I would have said it out loud, but I literally had no voice—just a tiny whisper.

A sinus infection was probably the cause of this temporary loss, but I have had sinus infections in the past and never lost my voice.

Believing in the mind-body connection—that our thoughts, emotions, beliefs and attitudes can positively or negatively affect our physical health—I wondered if losing my voice meant something on a deeper level.

In the hours before losing my voice, I had been talking about some of the events that led to my moving back to Michigan—maybe losing my voice was an indication that it was time to let go of my life in Pennsylvania and invest myself more fully in my new life.

Then another possibility occurred to me. Years ago, I remember writing in my journal that I hoped I would get to a place in my life where I no longer talked—not because of a stroke or some kind of cancer, but rather that I would have said all I needed to say.

When I shared that reflection with a friend, he chortled, incredulous that I could imagine I would ever stop talking. I talk a lot; being an extrovert, talking is usually how I process things.

I can be quiet, though. Every year, I go on a week-long silent retreat and my dream is to go on a thirty-day silent retreat.

When I went to Poland for two weeks of language school, I pledged to speak only Polish. Being a beginner in my language skills, I rarely spoke outside of the classroom. It felt like a two-week silent retreat.

And, since I moved to Michigan two years ago, I have spent more time in quiet than at any other in my life. Whole days pass without my having spoken to anyone but the dog. Often, I don’t even turn on music or the television. I like the quiet. I find it soothing.

Is it possible that my journal entry was coming true, that I am at that place in my life when I had said all I needed to say?

I hope not, because I think that I am really just finding my voice. I resonate with the phrase winter artist, because after so many years of living and learning and gaining experience, I finally believe I have something to say, something that might actually be helpful to someone.

My voice returned within a few days, but the experience has left me mind mindful of my words—and more grateful for my voice.

Spiritual Pathways

The windows in my new house are odd sizes, ruling out ready-made window treatments. Fortunately, I know how to sew. Home economics was a required class for girls in my elementary school, and I learned to sew when I was eleven years old.

I started sewing most of my clothes and then clothes for others. My younger sisters grew up wearing dresses I made—and later, their daughters did the same.

In just thirty minutes, I could take a yard and a half of fabric and change it into a skirt. Sewing was magical.

The whirr of the machine was a white noise that transported me to a place of silence and sharpened my focus—it was just me and what I was creating.

I was continually fascinated by the idea that a few cuts and some stitches could change an ordinary piece of fabric into something wearable.

Sewing became my icon for transformation—if I could work such magic, imagine what God could do with me, how God could cut away the excess and reshape me into something completely new and different.

Of course, the fabric gave itself over completely for me to rework it. I, on the other hand, have a free will, and it can be a very strong will.

Over the years, I have sewn clothes for a number of people. I once made a raw silk skirt for one friend and a wedding dress for another. One friend calls me every Thanksgiving when she dons the apron I sewed for her more than twenty years ago.

When I took a job that required a great deal of travelling, my sewing time diminished—a sewing machine does not travel well. Knitting became my go-to creative outlet, and I carried my yarn and needles around the world.

Gradually the amount of time I spent sewing dwindled to almost nothing. I don’t think I even touched my sewing machine during the nine months Jim was sick.

Jim’s illness gave him lots of time to ponder, and he processed the events and relationships of his life. He also thought about what my life would be like after he died. We knew that I was going to move to Michigan, and he wondered if I would live in the city or if I would plant a new perennial garden. He thought I should live near a lake. One day he suggested my new life should include sewing. It seemed so random.

But as I sat at my sewing machine the other day and started to make curtains, I remembered his comment. One of the things I miss about Jim is how tuned in he was to what nourished my spiritual life.