Spirituality for religiously wounded: the healing silence
Some of us can't go to church anymore. Some of us straddle multiple sides of the religious fence. Some of us have difficulty defining ourselves within one specific church context. And yet, we can't walk away from spirituality. We acknowledge and accept our longing for spiritual connection but some wounds have gone so deep that we walk with a permanent limp. For those of us who can no longer speak the language of organized religion, perhaps we can find the solace of silence. This is where you'll find me each morning:
Silence is the great equalizer. It is the place beyond words. And yet, once you start seeking silence, you realize how difficult it is to find. Our world is very loud and filled with abundant distractions all competing for our attention.
But silence is a source of life. It is a place of beginning. Before God created, there was a great silence. Once you start making friends with silence, you begin to discover the different kinds of silence. There are moments of hushed anticipation, moments of silence for the departed, the silence of grief, the silence of focused adoration, prayerful silence.
"What do you think about while you're meditating?" my husband asked me one morning.
"I'm trying NOT to think," I answered.
I don't know what to call my kind of meditation other than Healing Silence. I start by seating myself comfortably--but not too comfortably (I don't want to fall asleep)--sitting upright is a discipline. Then I recite a prayer--saying it as intentionally as I can, really letting the words roll off my tongue. This is a process of slowing me down. Then I focus on quiet breathing, counting each breath up to ten. Then I stop and wait. I keep my mind clear.
Many thoughts try to interrupt. I acknowledge them and then let them go. I don't engage those thoughts.
The point of my meditation is to calm and clear my mind. I can think thoughts all day long. Meditation is different. It's not thinking, it's being. It's being in silence.
This does not take a long time. First of all, I am too ADD to sit for long periods of time. I've made peace with the fact that some of my best meditation happens while running. I have discovered a kind of mobile meditation. This happens when my heart is pumping hard and my body is so worn out and exhausted--but if I push through, I hit this moment of openness and expansiveness. In those moments, I turn my thoughts to God and simply thank Him.
For those of us who were religiously wounded, we have a deep need for experiencing unconditional love. At least, that's what I've come to identify as my core need: a need for unconditional, totally accepting, unfailing, everlasting love.
It is impossible to find this love externally.
Nothing and nobody can fill this need completely.
There is no religion, no accomplishment, no material thing which can fully fill my endless need for love. Only eternal love can fill my eternal need.
And since God dwells in silence, I enter silence to find God. I have fallen in love with silence because that's where I am fully whole, fully held. When you experience the healing of silence, there is no need for explanations, defenses, manifestos, apologetics. We can fill our world with limitless words, while forgetting that words have limitations.
In silence I am formed.
In silence I am healed.
In silence I am born again.