"My sweet Lord
Hmm, my Lord
Hmm, my Lord
Now, I really want to see you
Really want to be with you
Really want to see you Lord
But it takes so long, my Lord
My sweet Lord, Hallelujah
Hmm, my lord Hallelujah
My, my, my lord Hallelujah…"
- George Harrison "My Sweet Lord"
This time it didn't take so long. But I am getting ahead of myself.
On Mondays and Thursdays I am at a college for office hours. At this college, the 30 minutes from ten to ten-thirty is spent in quiet. Students, staff, faculty…everyone stops for thirty minutes of silent inspiration…or at least I think that is the intent.
Last term I spent that half hour studying, taking calls, praying for myself…and others. Yes, it was quiet, it was inspiring…but somehow it wasn't very different from the rest of my day as a spiritual healer. It was a continuation…not the interruption…of my work day, and it was not "quiet" in the way I needed. I knew the difference.
But this term I had the opportunity to hear a friend talk about her relationship with "quiet time" and it felt all to0 familiar…and the insights, very exciting. She shared in our Wednesday worship meeting that she, too, had struggled within herself about how to use this space of time. At one point colleagues had invited her to join them in their outdoor quiet circle and that week she had decided to put her quiet "work" - reading, studying, preparing for the next class - aside and go sit in silent communion with her friends. She said that it was such a rich and inspiring time for her.
Something about her experience resonated with me. I wanted that "something more" again. I wanted to not be so busy in my prayer and quietness. With her encouragement, the next time I was at the college I shyly joined their silent circle in the sun. And it was glorious. Thirty minutes of true silence. No prayer agenda items, treatments, ToDo lists, rehearsing of quotes or citations, wrestling with "angels", or mental arguments….just silence, just listening...no mental speaking. When a thought would come, I would gently usher it into stillness. I had forgotten how much I really LOVED meditative silence. At the end of that first day I was hooked. I couldn't wait for my own self-imposed quiet times…thirty minutes, an hour, two….back to basics. Back to the very foundation stones of my spiritual practice. Not praying about, or for, anything or anyone….just listening. No mantras, statements of affirmation…just silence.
And the more I sat with my silence the better I became at watching thoughts….some benign, and some not so good…wandering in, trying to get a rise out of me, giving up, and leaving for lack of engagement.
So, that brings us to this morning. It was a gorgeous fall day in Elsah. The air was cool, the sun was bright…but not hot. I made my way to the concrete circle in the middle of the lawn right as the Chapel bells rang at the top of the hour. I sat on the brick pavers, wrapped my paisley pashmina around my shoulders to ward of any chill that might distract, leaned back against the high concrete curbing and closed my eyes.
I let the sun and the silence penetrate deeply. I opened my eyes briefly as three other women joined the circle but quickly returned to the stillness of a space that was full in its emptiness.
As I sat there listening, I heard a man at right at my left ear say, "Excuse me…" in the warmest, kindest, richest voice. It was so close that I almost felt His breath move the stray hairs near my ear. From somewhere deep inside I immediately responded with "Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth…" But there was nothing more. I wondered for the briefest moment if perhaps I was mistaken and someone had actually come by the office, seen me outside in the circle, and come over to gently ask for help. I opened my eyes briefly, but there were only the three other women in the circle…no men.
It was then that I truly knew that it was God's voice I had heard. You see, God's voice to me has always been a woman's voice. But today, had I heard a woman's voice I might have assumed it was one of the other women in the circle speaking. This voice was so clearly not a woman's and so obviously His….and I was so grateful.
It was only then that I pondered what God had actually said. "Excuse me…" in the loveliest way. Gently inserting His voice...and presence...into my reverie. It was like my small daughter's gentle tug at the hem of my jacket after church as I stood in the lobby talking to friends, or my mother's loving "excuse me" at my bedroom door when as a child I would have stayed up too late reading and she wanted me to know that she was still up and I might want to turn out the light and get some rest…
It was a gentle reminder of His presence…and it was wonderful…