I remember a time many years ago when I was struggling with life. I had too many needs, too many wants, too many expectations, and too many disappointments. There were several voices within and without constantly vying for my attention, and it was all too much. I felt unable to manage all the noise and confusion, for I was under siege and under so much pressure in that desolation that I could not muster much effort against it. It felt as if my overwhelmed mind had just quit on me. All I wanted to do was scream.
At that moment, I looked out; my sight landed on my camping chair and the vast open field right in front of me. I did not know at the time what prompted me, but I felt compelled to pick up my chair and walk onto that field. I felt very much like I was purposely going out into the desert. I must have walked about a mile or more but eventually, I stopped. There, apart from everything, I opened my chair and sat down right in the middle of my desert. There I was able to put down my head and let go. I proceeded to cry my ugliest and most heartfelt cry, and for a long-long time, desolation and desperation just flowed out of me. I cried until I was so dry that tears could not come out anymore. Finally, after my heart was empty, I was able to lift my head and look up to the sky.
My eyes were blinded for a moment; I felt the sun rays as if they were His hands coming down to touch my face, drying up my tears with their warmth. At that moment, I knew, for it was being written onto my heart:
Consoling scripture passages kept popping right onto my thoughts one after the other, and my heart just melted. My mind cleared, and the oppression was lifted. Why is it that I had to go towards the silence and solitude of that field so that I could feel His comforting embrace and hear His words to me in that “still, small voice”?
Many of us suffer from heavy expectations. We sometimes crumble under the weight of the world, a world that is neither kind nor compassionate. We live in this noisy place that constantly seeks to distract and confuse us. As disciples of Christ, we are called to discern God’s will, but there is so much noise in the world that it can become difficult to listen to God’s voice clearly. Sometimes, we thrust ourselves into escapism, which only adds to the noise, feeding our loneliness and restlessness. That is because we are not called to escape or worry too much about the future, but to do what we must here, present, now. We are called to reside in the present moment, for only in the present moment can we effect change. The past is gone; we cannot let that chain keep us imprisoned. The future is not assured; we cannot let it be our custodian. It is only in the present that God speaks to us. Only in the present can we choose to live our lives according to His will for us.
We are not called to be alone, nor are we ever truly alone, but there are many times that we are called to silence. Maybe we are called to find our own desert, either interior or exterior, where we can be set apart and drown the noise. When we silence ourselves and pay attention to experiencing the present moment, we allow ourselves the opportunity to hear God’s words for us. We only need to take the time to recognize Him by our side. To listen to Him, we need to learn to be open and vulnerable, and we need to know how to listen properly. Maybe that means that we must run to the center of a vast empty field so that we can cry our hearts out in supplication, empty ourselves and drown our own noise so that our ears can listen to His love whisper to us. But maybe it just means to go visit Him in His temple, to share in union with Him in the quiet from Communion. Perhaps in that silence, He can capture our attention and speak to our hearts directly and without distraction. May we learn to find and embrace the silence.
Let us pray: Christ, you came to redeem the world and fulfill all Scripture. You are the will of the Father. Help us grow ever closer to You, that we may learn to hear Your voice and discern Your will for us, that we may live fully in You. Amen.