Well friends, I’m in that book vortex. Eat, sleep, drink, breathe… words. Oh my.
Just five more days till I hop across the pond. I’m working as hard as I can so that in England I can guiltlessly cast off any writing for a week of long walks, train rides, big cups of tea, and literary rambling.
In the middle of it all, I’ve been trying to figure out what in the world it means to keep a quiet center in my heart. I feel so much pressure from waking until the relief of sleep that sometimes my driven soul is hard pressed to be still enough to know, mindfully know as the psalmist says, that God is really God.
I’ve been reading Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism again, so it’s got me thinking. I go in phases with that tome; on again, off again. The aura surrounding the lives of the mystics is a siren call to my soul, and a repellant all at once. I want to be of their number, striving after that other, realer reality, breathing God’s life as freely as air. Since I was eight or nine when I first felt a “knowing”, a sense of God’s reality in the smack middle of a sun-struck Texas field, I guess I have been chasing that sense of His nearness to me.
And yet, I have to run away from thinking about it all sometimes – because it is so impossible and I am so frail and how can gobbling up reports of other’s successes assuage my own ache?
But here I am again, eating up the words and stories and inarticulate ecstasies of people who knew, really knew God. I think to stop wanting to join them would be throwing in a spiritual towel. Being hungry reminds me I’m alive.
Driving home from the gym today, I was thinking of all this, and looked up to see these violet, pearl-lined clouds swaying over the mountains, and that first rippled hint of burning color on my Mt. Herman. I sighed, a regretful, companionable sort of sigh and felt close to God, in a wistful way. I wished I had the capacity to wonder and revel as much as all that music of color and cloud deserved. My capacity for awe is so small, the span of my attention the size of a baby’s fist. I have this sense sometimes when looking at a God-breathed storm or a glamorous sunset that my very senses reach a limit of reception. Though color and sound and sixth sense whispers abound, I can only catch them as I would the fleeting leap of a shooting star – as echo, zapped reflection in my brain, too quick and much for me to grasp.
I want simply to be stretched; to be able, to be skilled in seeing, listening, knowing in a still sort of way. It’s hard these days, it’s hard all days. But this want and this striving teach me to keep on trying. And somehow, that keeps my heart alive.