Monday, January 17, 2011

Laryngitis Shut Me Up:

Psalm 1:1-2
Blessed is the one... whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.
"Only to sit and think of God,
Oh what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the Name,
Earth has no higher bliss."
--Frederick W. Faber

I woke up on Sunday morning at 4am and realized that I had lost my voice.  It's a strange feeling not being able to talk.  At first, it almost sent me into a bit of a panic realizing that I didn't have the ability to speak any words or make any noises.  Once I finally came to grips with the reality that I wasn't getting my voice back anytime soon, panic turned to irritation. 

You don't realize how much you use your voice in a day, until you no longer have the ability to use it.  Waking up to a smiling baby and not being able to talk to her with words.  Spending the day with my husband and having to use other means to communicate.  Not being able to take or make phone calls.  And since my occupation relies on my voice, not being able to work, either.  It was quite an adjustment, to say the least.

I'm still in the process of trying to get my voice back, and to be completely honest- as major extrovert, I haven't really enjoyed the silence.  But I have learned a thing or two...

My new year's resolution this year was to get more disciplined in the realm of my spiritual life.  I started rereading a book by Richard Foster called the "Celebration of Discipline".  Each month I'm trying to tackle one of the 12 spiritual disciplines as a way to grow and strengthen my relationship with God. 

The first month my focus has been on the discipline of  Christian "meditation".  As Foster explains, the difference between the process of meditation in Eastern religions verses Christianity is this: one is a call to empty the mind in order to "detach" from the world, while the other goes beyond just "detaching" from the world- and into the realm of "attaching" to God. "The detachment from the confusion all around us- in order to have a richer attachment to God".

Meditation is, essentially, the other side to praying.  Praying demands opening our hearts to God in expressive communication- while meditation is the process of allowing Him to open His heart up to us.  It's a chance to free up our minds to hear what He has to say, to savor His words, to experience his Presence.  

For many Christians, me included, this discipline is foreign territory.  So many of us are used to a spiritual relationship with God based on mediation rather than meditation.  A go-between.  Someone who hears from God...and then let's the rest of us know.  It's much easier that way, isn't it?

"Human beings seem to have a perpetual tendency to have somebody else talk to God for them....such an approach saves us from the need to change, for to be in the presence of God is to change.  That is why meditation is so threatening to us.  It boldly calls us to enter into the living presence of God, for ourselves". 

So, at the end of it all, this is what I'm learning through my inability to speak...I'm learning to let God speak.  

Like Samuel, I'm learning that the process of hearing God's voice takes takes effort.  God can be speaking directly to me and I'm missing it because I haven't taken the time to listen.  And for me, the process of closing my mouth doesn't always come easy.

I want to learn to listen to God by choice rather than by force- not because I have to listen, but because I want to.  Because I love Him.  

As the great thinker Albert the Great says, "The contemplation of the saints is fired by the love of the one contemplated: that is, God".

May God give us the grace to empty our minds, detaching from the things of this world in order to learn to attach ourselves to Him. 

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