Focusing On the Quiet Within
A few weeks ago when Lent began, I began to hear people talk about what they might give up. Things like chocolate, coffee and other really yummy food items were at the top of the list. In a world focused on pleasure, giving up these goodies are a real sacrifice. I understand the intent is to parallel the Lenten journey and the sacrifice Jesus made for us.
But, I am wondering what if we could for the forty days of this journey, or the days reaming, be intently focused on being still to hear God’s voice speaking to us? Might we be able to discern the bigger questions that we carry into life each day?
As a small girl I would often go with my cousin and her dad to collect milk from farmers. We lived in a rural area and early in the morning while it was still dark, we would jump in his truck and collect the milk in large milk cans. It was a great time, the farmers always made a fuss over us and their wives gave us treats. The most wonderful part of this adventure is that I could take home a small amount of milk to my grandmother. She would wait for the heavy cream to rise to the top and I knew we would be having a dessert with lots of whipped cream that night!
This is an old process that came from a simpler time when there was more time to focus on what was important. The process of discernment is a lot like this process; it takes patience and paying attention. At the heart of our relationship with God, I believe we all have questions about purpose and God’s will for us.
Life is full of things that demand our attention from our job and personal responsibilities, to the ways we spend our leisure time; our schedules are packed. The result of always being busy is feeling like life is unfocused and moving aimlessly from one thing to the next, not having a minute to ourselves.
One of the most important gifts a person can give themselves is the gift of time to be quiet away from all distractions. For some, this is early in the morning or just before bed. The time of day does not matter as the most important part is to sit quietly with no distractions. Yes, that means turn your cell phone off!
I remember doing this for the first time and feeling like the five minutes would never be over; but I kept doing it anyway. Soon I realized my heart slowed down and I could settle into a calmer state where I could quiet my mind from the clutter. This is a practice that becomes easier the more you do it. From this place you are receptive to hear and respond to the questions of your heart.
Discernment is a wonderful tool that allows us to take a question or issue and look at it from many viewpoints. The tools of this practice is taking into account the perspective of spirit, wisdom, and your own reasoning and experience.
Spirit might reflect if your choice is in alignment with your highest values and if this action will lead you to be more wholehearted. Wisdom asks you to listen to the voice of your heart not your mind. Reason and experience tells you that your past experiences are helpful and asks you to remember what you have learned in your life that can help you. What comes from this inquiry is like the cream that comes to the top of the milk; we can separate the needed wisdom from the rest of the information.
The process of quieting your mind and discerning the still voice of God within you is a gift well worth the investment of time that brings you closer to yourself as well as God. ~ Blessings
This was first published by the Savage Pacer on 3/5/16
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