Sunday, November 27, 2005

Intimacy with God (7)

In her book Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God's Transforming Presence (InterVarsity Press, 2004), Ruth Haley Barton writes:

What I'm learning these days is that a lot of our God-talk is like the finger that points to the moon. The finger that points to the moon is not the moon; pointing to the moon, talking about the moon, involving ourselves in study and explanation about how the light of the moon is generated is not the same thing as sitting in the moonlight, letting the moonbeams fall around us illuminating what they will. It is not the same thing as noticing how everything is transformed in this numinous light. When we sit in the moonlight, we don't try to figure it out, explain it, or force it to be anything different than what it is. We just enjoy it.

It is the same with God. Our words and mental constructs about God are not the Reality itself. They only point to it. In silence we give in to the fact that our words can never contain God or adequately describe our experiences with God. We give our minds permission to just stop and rest themselves in the experience of the Reality itself. The willingness to be silent in God's presence results in quietness, confidence, and clarity beyond what the human mind can generate. This is a very deep kind of rest indeed.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta once wrote:

Prayer is simply talking to God.
He speaks to us: we listen.
We speak to him: he listens.
A two-way process: speaking and listening.
The more you pray, the easier it becomes.
The easier it becomes, the more you'll pray.
Pray at home every day even if it is only for five minutes.
At a 1999 Prayer Breakfast, President Clinton reported that someone once asked Mother Teresa, "When you pray to God, what do you say?" She replied, "I don't say anything. I listen." The interviewer persisted, "Well, what does God say to you." She answered: "He doesn't say anything. He listens."

To hear the voice of God we need to set aside time to be quiet, to simply be still. In this busy world I wonder how many of us do this. Maybe we're just "too busy" to allow ourselves the luxury of an hour alone with God.

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