I am going through something I hope I can express to you with words. It is as if my thoughts are no longer my own. There are far too many thoughts and ideas going on in my head for them to be solely my own. There is definitely a higher power guiding me forward down a path I hesitate constantly to take but what choice do I have?
2011 alone has been a year of pain, growth (internally), self-expression, self-discovery, and acceptance on so many levels there is hardly enough time to tell them all. The biggest transformation in my life, up until this point, has been going back to church. I should say simply going to church. Before now I went to church (not regularly) when I was very young and probably not by choice. Although, I will say I enjoyed the time spent in the classroom setting learning about different stories within the bible. I never really paid much attention to the sermons or the words said at every mass. I never took much interest in learning it. I was young. I once was lost, but now I’m found.
I probably would not have found the church and congregation that I am now a member of if not for the series of events that took place this year in my life. It isn’t until I stopped to take stock of the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been, and the labors I endured (emotionally and physically) that I realized just how much I’ve changed within. My mind is even more open than it was. Perhaps it never was? All I know is I was fighting an internal battle with myself to believe in God and what He represents for me on a personal level. I always took the stand point of being able to believe in His son Jesus Christ because (for me) there was enough evidence to prove He was a man. Of flesh and bone like me. The difference was that He suffered and died for my sins. We all sin. That part I got right away. But to then believe in an all powerful being on faith alone just wasn’t something I could do, until now. I won’t mention them, but I have definitely seen, first hand, what good things God does for his children. I’ve witnessed situations and experiences in my own life that I could probably credit to people and circumstance, but something in my mind can’t simplify my path anymore.
I have given myself over to Him and I trust I’ll be happier for it.
Now my many thoughts and ideas, I feel, have become a consequence of following down this uncharted path. Trying to organize them all when they are present all at once is not easy by any means. Even now, as I write this, it’s hard for me to churn out one sentence after another. I have to keep going back and rereading what I’ve written to make sure it makes sense. I used to be able to focus on one thing, write it down, and move on to the next. Now all of my thoughts are all just bullet points on a page. I have not been able to further expand on my thoughts past the first sentence. What do I do with a jumble? I’ve tried unscrambling them in my mind but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Then two theories came up in my surroundings. And almost as if meant just for me, I picked them up and ran with them.
The first is meditation. It sounds simple but believe me it isn’t. My first try at it I spent those precious 45 minutes jotting down the thoughts that sounded so loud in my head I thought those around me participating in the silent meditation could hear them! I thought if I wrote them down they would simultaneously quiet down. They only got louder. They all want me to hear them! I can’t hear myself think. But I found, most of what I was writing, was in reference to this idea of meditation. What is its purpose? Why do it? And the biggest question I had, what’s the most effective and correct way of doing it? I’m sure if I looked I could find a “Dummy’s Guide to Meditation” but I rather not rely on others tips or examples. I’m sure there are some things that you just figure out through trial and error. This is one of those times. Although I’ve been told what I do when I get home and sit in silence for about 15-30 minutes could be considered meditation. I must also remember there is a distinct difference between meditation and silent prayer. Both are powerful tools that could and should be used to maintain ones mental faculties (especially if living in a busy and crowded city like New York). I think my meditating, though accidental, are working positively. Especially now that I know that’s what I’m doing. Before I used to think my sitting in silence, letting my mind be as restful as I can get it, was a waste of time. In fact, if not for these times I would probably be a wreck! You might thank the silence for my peace of mind? I thank God for the silence He knows my mind needs every day.
The second is a gradual progression of events that culminated in my discovering the act of having humility, thereby being humble. Trust me when I tell you, even the saintliest of people have a hard time being humble. I was not born humble, no one was. It is almost certainly something that must be built up to. It’s hard to reach a true level of humility and equally as difficult to keep yourself there. To be humble in all aspects of your life, inwardly and outwardly, is not an easy task. We have all been known to slip every now and again. It’s human nature to lose our cool and gloat when things go our way. Having more to the point of bringing debt upon ourselves is intertwined into our culture. I am in the generation of bigger and more expensive is better.
It’s also hard to be humble if you don’t know what it means. Allow me…
Where did I get this idea that I should be as humble as I possibly can in all aspects of my life? Here is where a series of events led me down this path. While deciding to be a member of the Congregation of Saint Savior at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine (yes I know…WOW! lol) I went to, what they call a “Welcoming Party”. It’s not as overwhelming as it may sound. I got to meet a lot of members of the congregation who I would see every Sunday but I wouldn’t say anything to them before or after the service on Sundays. This was a good time to work on my communication skills. You’re never too old to brush up on them okay! And while there I got to hear about several volunteer opportunities through the church and namely, an organization that originated in Maryland, and a chapter was started here in NYC by the Vicar of the congregation. Naturally I was intrigued by the idea of a prayer group that meets once a month to share their troubles, ask for prayers from others, and in the interim, prays for each other. It’s called the Order of Urban Missioners. Anyhow, we had our first real meeting where meditation was involved. Group praying and singing as well as sharing our problems. While sharing, the Vicar handed out quotes from Saint Teresa of Avila and instantly I was intrigued. Being that I’ve been reading at least one book a week and I had just finished reading a book I decided to seek out a copy of the book she pulled the quotes from. When they say the Lord works in mysterious ways, on this particular day, while hunting down this book, that saying was very true.
The book in question is called The Interior Castle. If you are looking to enter a journey of self-discovery and would like to formulate a relationship with God but are unsure of how to start, I humbly suggest you start with this book. I’m sure I’ll delve into what it’s all about in a separate post once I’m done.
1Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation. (Psalm 111:1)