— w.i.p. Cat Charissage (c) 2015
Here is the second part of my article Praying When God is Silent. Part one is here. Also, if any of you live in Southern Alberta, you are invited to join me in either (or both) of two presentations on what I learned from the Dr. Estes training, The Heart of the Wounded Healer. They will be held on Saturday, June 25, 1:30 – 4:30, and Thursday, June 30, 7-9:30. Just send me an email at catcharissage at gmail dot com if you’re interested.
With much love,
Praying When God is Silent, Part Two
However, there have been a few metaphors that I have found to be helpful at these times. One is that of stormy seas. The surface of the ocean can be all churning, tempest, and chaos, but only 10 feet down the great depths of the ocean are calm, moving and flowing in ancient ways, holding mystery and life underneath it all. The circumstances of our lives and the confusions of our psyches may be caught within a powerful and destroying storm of common human experience, but underneath, and not even too far underneath, there may be calm and a life-filled mystery.
Or we might be living as though on the very edges of a wheel for a cart, spinning around faster and faster as the horses, or the motor, speed up. We will be crushed on the surface of the road; certainly we cannot see where we are going. But each cartwheel spoke is connected to a hub, just as each of us is connected to our deepest self. This hub or center of each wheel moves at a much, much slower speed and is protected from the mud and stones of the pavement. Our hub can be our calm center. As well, a cart has a driver, a driver who knows where we’re going, and who will bring all the cartwheels safely to their destinations.
Now I want to suggest a few practices that are helpful in times of confusion and pain. These are things you can do rather than just think or talk about. Are you taking care of your physical body? A loving God would want us to be as healthy and as strong as possible. So many things at times of crisis and pain feel so out of control, but taking good physical care of ourselves and those for whom we are responsible is under our control — at least a little bit. Can you try to eat as healthfully as possible? Will you continue to feed your children well? Can you manage your days in such a way that you get enough sleep? Can you create peace and calm in your home to nourish both yourself and your family? Will you engage in gentle — or strenuous — exercise? These, too, are prayer.
Sometimes when God is silent, our minds are anything but. Our thoughts tumble over each other like lion cubs in play. They jump around like monkeys swinging from tree to tree in some jungle of the mind. Not only are all those thoughts tiring, but sometimes we’re bitten, or feel like we’re hanging by one arm with no tree to swing to next.
Once our thoughts are no longer useful in helping us to understand or strategize about our situation, once our fears have been catalogued in our journals or witnessed by an understanding friend, the spinning repetitive thoughts are no longer helpful. Catastrophizing, especially, is not useful. So what can be helpful? How can we turn this into prayer to calm us and remind us of the immense love we yearn to know?