I have received today an extra blessing..the blessing of a day off from work. The blessing of what can be thought of as a “lie-in”. I don’t know about you, but for me the joy of a lie-in is to awake earlier than I expected, plop my pillows up and reach for my book. For the past two years, I have read less fictional stories and more books of the spiritual kind. What I tend to do is save the fictional ones for just before bedtime but the mornings are for enlightment and ponderings and the jotting down of notes in my spiritual journal. It is not a discipline but a joyful undertaking.
I am currently reading Joan Chittister’s book, ‘Between the Dark and the Daylight‘. It is my first book by this Benedictine Nun who has written over 50 but it certainly won’t be my last! Her thoughts are insightful and her prose a comforting delight. I will be posting some of my favourite quotes later on.
Today, I have been reading some of her chapters on quiet and solitude and I was reminded about something. There was a time in my life when I both feared and craved solitude, so much so that I looked for more work to do in order to escape it and then would joyfully embrace solitude when I could. What I now know is that rare, periodic spurts of time alone can actually cause some anxiety. I am not saying that we need to avoid solitude but quite the contrary, we need much more time of it then few rare moments. The reason for this lies within us. When we are left alone to our thoughts, we end up spending some of the time staring into the eyes of our inner demons. It is not an easy thing to have to face up to, those reminders of our mistakes, our inadequacies, our negative emotions but ignoring them will not get rid of them. They will appear in our dreams in the forms of monsters, ghouls, giants and witches we try to run away from but find our feet to be glued to the ground. And in the day, as busy as we sometimes are, these same monsters rear their ugly heads and roar into our faces even though our minds may have been busy solving mathematical equations. We can’t escape them. They only grow more prickly every day. However, the good news is this: We can make them smaller. How does every hero in great fairy stories vanquish their foes? By sheer courage and with the help of a magic power. We need to have the courage to face our inner demons by the daily use of our magic power of solitude. Look them in the eyes, understand where they are coming from and love them. Just like Beauty did with her beast only then to discover he was just a human man after all. At first it is difficult and often painful, but then slowly the pain lessens. If you begin a meditation practice, you begin the use of another magic power which transforms your moments of solitude to golden moments of bliss. It is during these silent prayers, these prayers without dialogue that we find we are ‘teleported’ to the breast of the One whose love for us can be experienced far greater than the experiences of our sufferings.