Sunday, May 13, 2012

Slowing Down As A Way To God


"Emptiness and fullness at first seem complete opposites.  But in the spiritual life they are not.  In the spiritual life we find the fulfillment of our deepest desires by becoming empty for God." - Henri Nouwen

I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for spiritual or self-help books. If I visit a bookstore you will inevitably find me in the religion or self-help sections. Most of the books on my bookshelves are of such a nature. And there is a place for such books; many have helped me greatly along my spiritual journey thus far.  But they can also be another example of trying to fill up our lives with something in order to find the way to God.  

We can also fill our time with audio-books, music, the wisdom of friends, classes, workshops, etc.  But the irony is that sometimes the more "stuff" we gather in order to get closer to God, the farther away He/She may seem.  We hear that call from the Divine, calling us to closer intimacy with Her, yet the answer isn't busyness, but a slowing down. A walk in the woods, an embrace of a friend, 10 minutes journalling about our deepest fears and dreams.  And it can sometimes mean removing some of the things in our lives that are preventing us from intimacy with the Holy. Turning off our cellphone, leaving the laptop at home, etc.  It seems incredibly harder to do such things these days as life becomes busier and more demanding, but if we leave no room for "God-time" then we - I - shouldn't be surprised when I don't feel spiritually satisfied.

Jesus knew the value of traveling light. I think of verses such as selling all that you have and giving it to the poor, or when he asked his disciples to pray with him in Gethsemane but that seemed too hard a task for them.  

Our minds are busy, cluttered places; same goes for our emotions. And they'll remain that way until we learn to slow down.  In a holy moment, Jesus is said to have "emptied himself" to God during the last moments of his life, which led to new life. May we be able to do the same daily.

Mark Andrew Alward