Yesterday I was up at 2:30 am to get to the airport for my newly re-scheduled flight out of Baltimore back home. I joined lines of frantic travelers with a joint vision of the growling, gnarled face of Sandy chasing us out of town.
I was leaving two days ahead of schedule. I was disappointment with my cancelled plans and exhausted from only two hours sleep, but I was leaving with my heart full. Full to overflowing. Or as John Wesley aptly described it, “my heart was strangely warmed.”
Make Space to Hear
I’ve been in a season of a certain kind of boredom, numbness – the numbness that comes from day in day out repetition. Work that does not awaken my heart, but demands my time. Dullness and disappointment.
Yet I chose to attend a blogging conference in Pennsylvania called Allume. Why? I’m not really sure.
But this was my space, my time. And though work certainly followed me, with frantic calls and texts from needy clients, I fought hard to be there – to be fully present. I fought for my time.
Ten years ago I went away to France. Near the end I sat for a whole month. Alone in my Niçoise flat with a cancelled schedule, I was still. I was quiet. In that space, quite unexpectedly my greatest moment of reflection and conversation with God invaded my space.
Four years ago I went away to a weekend of teaching and realignment in Pensacola. No one knew me. No one needed anything from me. I let go of my pain and just cried till I could breathe again.
Last month My Man and I escaped for an Orlando weekend. To sit in a hotel. To float in a pool. And to not do much else. Day three: we suddenly turned to each other as if to say, “Oh, there you are! I can see you. I can hear you again.”
Exhaling does not happen by accident. Sometimes you have to go away to find your way back home.
When Drinking from a Fire Hose, Don’t Try to Talk
It takes great art to stop the compulsive self from posturing when it’s simply time to receive. Attending this conference was something of a marathon of top notch information, strategic networking, new friendships, fresh ideas, eye opening revelations and heart touching inspiration. And that was just the first day!
Somewhere in the middle of the second day I leaned back into the pace and just went along for the ride. There was no need to position myself with talk of “web design expertise” or justify my “baby blog” or fret about “awkward social interactions.” It was time to shut up and just drink from the fire hose blast that was Allume. And when I did, the words went deeper and the connections grew stronger. My numb heart began to beat again.
There is a time to give. There is a time to receive. This is the latter.
After all if you don’t stop talking when the blast hits you, you’ll choke.
The Afterglow Looks Good on You!
Like your sunkissed look after a day at the beach, take time to bask in the afterglow. Let what you’ve received simmer. Or as Sarah Markley put it, sit with it.
From Henri Nouwen’s The Way of the Heart…
“When the door of the steambath is continually left open, the heat inside rapidly escapes through it; likewise the soul, in its desire to say many things, dissipates its remembrance of God through the door of speech… Timely silence then, is precious, for it is nothing less than the mother of the wisest thoughts.”
Hey listen, I’m well aware the glow won’t last forever. Life “stuff” begins to crowd back in. Back to work. Back to housekeeping. Back to the things that grate you, weary you, wear you down.
But in this time, in this space, I can hear God. I can feel my heart and I’m simmering in the goodness of that Presence.
And I won’t rush it.
So maybe I don’t talk about it to well meaning others asking, “So, how was it?” Giving silence it’s chance to let the steam build up on the inside before I turn around to open the door and give it back out. Don’t let my silence deceive you though, I’m just basking in the afterglow.
A warm heart, a space to hear, a timely silence – Seek them viciously. And ask yourself, “How then shall I live?”