Silence, I learned, is some times the most beautiful sound.”
― Charlotte Eriksson
“Slowly, simply, silence, stillness” was my Lenten mantra, my focus, my goal for the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter morning. A lofty goal, yes. Yet, I was convinced this intentional journey would yield the peaceful rewards I was seeking in my personal life. Of all my Lenten fasts, in comparison to all my past sacrifices, in judging the level of self-denial I’ve deliberately imposed on myself, this year’s “halt of self” has been the most challenging in refinement of my mind, body, and spirit.
Do you trust the silence? Or, are you a skeptic of stillness, like I tend to be?
Have you found a way to rest in the stillness? Do you ever allow yourself the chance to rest your weary mind and bones?
Do you welcome in the peace? Or, are you prone to catastrophising out of innate fear?
Have you lived out loud, with joy and freedom from the chains of your mind? Or, do you lurk along in misery, always waiting for the other shoe to drop?
The last three years, for me, have felt like an ultra-marathon, filled with hills and valleys of tears, running at a snail’s pace, feeling completely lost and unprepared for the race set before me, as I carried a weighted pack on my shoulders, trudging through mud, falling down too many times that I’ve lost track. Over the last few weeks, I have seen the finish line in sight and I’m eager, yet still so apprehensive, to finish the race and rest in the notion that the biggest fight of my life thus far, is finally done. I am having a difficult time accepting that the grueling miles I’ve run have amounted to much more than having run a race I was thrown into, without adequate preparation. Now that my desperate pleas and prayers seem to be answered, it’s difficult to switch gears to a place where it’s time to rest, recuperate, recover from the incredible feat I have just accomplished, emotionally.
For so very long now, I have carried that burdensome cross of mothering a struggling child without a compass, my headlamp dimmed, my resolve shaken and trampled on. Yet, here I rise. The truth is the only way I’ve survived the mountainous terrain of my parenting journey is that I’m finally allowing myself to let go of control. Though fears still grapple me with super-human strength, I am diligent in practicing how to breathe through them, pray through them, write through them, and further unloading them in dialogue with my amazing therapist, trying to leave them in that space between us, not letting them drag me to the floor once I return home.
I’ve practiced a lot of self-forgiveness as I’ve fallen flat on my face and the need to forgive and seek forgiveness will remain a focus in my life. Despite my missteps and mistakes, I can recognize that I am loving as best I can today, and have let those circumstances, hardships, and some relationships to just be, freely flying away to where they need to go—even if that means far away from me where I can no longer enact any type of chance to insert my will, my advice, my vision, or my control.
The most humbling lesson I’ve learned in the last three years is that it’s okay, preferable, actually, to let go of perfection and preconceived notions, allowing God to do His job, and to just love—myself, others, my family, strangers, my friends, and enemies—right where I am and right where they are, without expectation nor conditions to that love. Truth be told, it’s a difficult, often heart-wrenching choice, challenge, and cross to bear going on in love when you feel so beaten down and defeated by the compounding hardships of life. But, going on in love and patience, staying mindful to live each day as best as I can, choosing better than before, these new choices and changes only feel strange and unnatural for a time before the transformative lightness is shining from deep within my heart, mind, and soul, changing me for the better.
Slowly, simply, silence, stillness. This has been my Lenten focus and will remain my prayerful path going into the Easter season and throughout the remainder of this year. Hoping for heartfelt and mindful changes for you, me, and the world abound. Be at peace, friends.
“Whenever there is stillness there is the still small voice, God’s speaking from the whirlwind, nature’s old song, and dance…”
― Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters