I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that often my Quiet Spaces time seems to be the signal for my brain to pull out everything and every circumstance that has been lurking in its dark recesses for the past decades.
I start to pray and suddenly I’m thinking about what I should wear to the restaurant tomorrow night, which leads me to think about that dress I always liked but I’m pretty sure it won’t fit me now, and then I’m off on a guilt trip because I haven’t been to the workout class for some time, and then I move on to lament my lack of time and I wonder if I could find more time if I spent less time watching television, and that leads me to considering whether Meredith and Derek are ever going to get it together, and I wonder if maybe having streaming movies isn’t such a good idea and perhaps I should read more, and I think about the book that I’ve been reading and wonder if it’s due back at the library yet, but they usually send me an email and maybe I should just go and check if there’s an email from the library….
Does this sound woefully familiar? How on earth are we to benefit from our Quiet Spaces if we can’t control our thoughts that fall like confetti, covering over our good intentions?
I’ve tried reading the Bible to get me “in the right frame of mind.” Sometimes it works, but usually I find I’m thinking about something else even as I read the words. Now I’m being brutally honest here. It’s hard to admit that my worry over a dental appointment supersedes the Words of Life that I’m reading.
I’ve tried a mantra—“God is with me” or “Come, Lord, come”—whispered over and over. Truthfully? Don’t think less of me, but I tend to nod off.
Occasionally, I get it right. My mind stills, my breathing relaxes, my body untenses, and in the wonder of that state, I can feel the Presence with me. And what a wonderful, mystical, transcending experience that becomes.
What I want is to have that experience every time. I read a book called Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life, which is where I am. The authors (Jane Marie Thibaullt and Richard Morgan) suggest a simple meditation exercise that is helpful for focusing your quiet time no matter your season of life. It uses the well-known verse “Be still and know that I am God.”
I’ve expanded this to become my Quiet Spaces routine—one that brings me to that wonderful state of Thinking Nothing and Experiencing God with Me.
- Be still and know that I am God—Think of as many names for God as you can. (Your busy brain will love this!)
- Be still and know—Think of what you know God has done for you (recently is best).
- Be still—Consciously relax yourself, starting with your feet and ending with your neck and shoulders.
- Be—Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. Focus on each one and let it go.
Welcome to your Quiet Space.