by Donna Anderson
There once was a wee little girl who was knit together in her mother’s womb by her Daddy God. When it came time to be born her mother fought to live. Both the mother and the wee one were terrorized by death. Both lived, but neither bonded, and it was a lonely life for the little ones tender heart. It seems that due to the trauma, her heart needed a safe place, so she locked it away. As she grew up, life seemed mostly like a struggle because, although she didn’t know it, she was separated from her tender heart.
When she was in her twenties she traveled the world searching for she knew not what. The distractions of exciting adventure were quickly swallowed up by a return of depression, sadness, performing for approval, etc. At thirty years of age she reached the end of herself and she called out to her Daddy God. He graciously came with His forgiveness, love and new life. After a wonderously extended honeymoon she began to slip back into the religion of performance. Something was still missing, but once again, still, she knew not what.
For years she had a sense that she was in some sort of a prison, and years of doing all the seemingly right stuff did not result in a peace that comes from the deep knowing of who she was, and whose she was. This mysterious disconnect was totally agonizing.
This has been a summary of my life. The deeper discovery of what has been taking place with the wee one and hence, with my heart, is the result of these last months of prayer. Over the past few weeks there has been three sessions of deep wailing where I guess I was really connecting with the little one’s despair and hopelessness. Her cry was, “I can’t do this anymore. I may as well die!” Today, March 4, I believe that this lost child and thus my barricaded heart, has been released from a prison!! The little one is fragile, tentative and wary. A new part of the journey now begins as I learn to relate to myself, the Lord and others with my free heart. A counselor has been walking this road with me over the last years, and my Spiritual Director over these last months. I am SO grateful for their support. The way their direction has complimented each other has been a gift from the Lord. I am exhausted and peaceful, surprised and hopeful – also, somewhat afraid.
During this prayer segment of Living from the Heart most of my time has been spent with Margaret Silf’s book, “Close to the Heart. As a “…lost child of Eden” I found in her book new ways of being with the Lord in my fear and pain – both emotional and physical. My heart burns within me when I read that authentic prayer can result in “life changing encounter with our deepest selves in God.” (P. 26). Thomas Keating’s book “Open Mind, Open Heart” has been an excellent additional source for me to learn to be still. I had no idea that Centering Prayer was a way to enter the contemplative state of “permanent and abiding awareness of God” that my heart so longs for. (p.102)
As I read through my thick journal I see where I asked the Lord to take me beyond what I’ve known. There are so many steps along my prayer path that I could relate. I will summarize an example from Chapter 6 of “Close to the Heart”.
Into my little attic, my inner most place, comes a sense of despising and wanting to leave so I can go and do life – to get on with the “important” things. I feel unsure and agitated so I ask if it’s a safe place. The Lord says, “Yes, darling, absolutely! And there’s life yet to be lived. I delight to be your Father and mentor as you enter these places of True Desire. It’s a room full of life – life lived and not yet lived.” I have a sense that this Inner Place is where I’m invited to discover who God says I am!
Some other examples from my journal will follow.
One day after Centering Prayer I said to the Lord, “Thank you Lord for this desperate place. I lean into your heart.” His response – “Stop fretting honey, you’ll never be perfect. Stop comparing. Enjoy each day. I know these days have been hard with the struggles in your body. Remember, I am healing you with My Love.”
Once in Spiritual Direction I asked Father to name the little one who was in the prison, to sing over her, woo her and show her who she is. I also went to her and comforted her. My SD commented on my amazing mother heart towards the little one. It was a very affirming time. I was greatly comforted.
My last sharing will be about my “Foot Episode”! I do believe that finally choosing to quiet myself and focus with my ‘Word” helped me in this very painful and frantic situation. I had hurt my ankle at noon, went on about my day and at supper noticed that it was still sore. In the evening I was very focused on other things and had been mostly sitting. By bedtime I shockingly realized that I could NOT stand on my left foot and had to hop. The pain was excruciating. How bizarre! By midnight there were spasms of pain in my foot and up my leg. Because I cannot tolerate pain pills I was getting a little frantic. I had to crawl into the bathroom, the kitchen to get an icepack and another room to get an extra pillow. The Lord was so gracious. Once back in bed He helped me to quiet myself by focusing on Him, and to worship Him from this valley. He must have taken me beyond the pain because I actually slept for four hours. When I woke up, I dared to move my toes and they didn’t hurt, I could stand on my foot and I could walk!!!!! My goodness, He had healed me over night!!! The Lord said, “Hard things are necessary. Unless this had happened you’d not have had the chance to practice choosing to worship, love and trust Me in a very challenging place. You’ve learned more about Me. What do you think??” My abbreviated response – “I think You’re the Wise One and You know what’s best for me. I set my heart to accept your Father heart that you’ve been offering me.”
As I’ve pursued the Lord and allowed Him to pursue me over these past months, my sense is that something maybe, very subtly shifting. Dare I say this?! Ever so slowly my heart’s coming out of hiding – ever so slowly. There seems to be a hush as the babe stirs. Oh the power and wonder of His great Love that actually pursues ME – still and forever. Oh my ….