“In prayer we seek what John Cassian (360–430) called ‘integrity of heart’ or ‘integral wholeness.’ But when you’re honest before God, that can feel far off. Here’s Cassian’s self-diagnosis in his Institutes and Conferences – lethargy, sleeplessness, unsettling dreams, impulsive urges, self-justification, seething emotions, sexual fantasies, pious pretense that masked as virtue, self-deception, clerical ambition and the desire to dominate, crushing despair, confusion, wild mood swings, flattery, and the dreaded ‘noonday demon’ of acedia (“a wearied or anxious heart” that suggests close parallels to clinical depression). Cassian further admits that ‘there are many things that lie hidden in my conscience which are known and manifest to God, even though they may be unknown and obscure to me.’ And this is a monk who had devoted his entire life to prayer!” Daniel Clendenin
“I get so tired of beholding my brokenness. But the deeper I go into the depths of it, the deeper I experience my belovedness too.” Jonathan Martin
“The man who does not permit his spirit to be beaten down and upset by dryness and helplessness, but who lets God lead him peacefully through the wilderness, and desires no other support or guidance than that of pure faith and trust in God alone, will be brought to the Promised Land.” Thomas Merton
“I belong to my beloved,
and his desire is for me.”
Song of Songs 7:10
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- I can never help but smile reading Cassian’s list – it’s so familiar at points. Are you in touch with your “dryness and helplessness” like Cassian, Martin and Merton are?
- Do you keep seeking God in prayer even when overwhelmed by your brokenness? …when you’re “beaten down?”
- Have you attempted to let the experience of brokenness move you into a deeper experience of belovedness?
Beloved Silence: Thank you for listening to my confessions and failures. Under the shadow of your light, my darkness is no more. Amen. (Peter Traben Haas)
For More: Centering Prayers by Peter Traben Haas
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. Thanks! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”
“You don’t need to fix your friends or family. You don’t need to solve all the problems that confront you. If you can simply learn to not be controlled by fear — your own or that of others — you will be a non-anxious presence in the lives of others, and there is nothing they need more. So how do you do this? By confronting your own anxieties and fears head-on. An anxious person cannot be a non-anxious presence, obviously. The world is full of people wanting to solve all the problems of the world. But the world would profit much more if people would first confront their own anxieties and the things that cause them 1) to have to fill every silence with meaningless chatter, 2) to stay constantly busy, and 3) to do anything to avoid being still.” David K. Flowers
“He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give to others. He will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressivity, his ego-centered ambitions, his delusions about ends and means.” Thomas Merton
“Let him who would move the world, first move himself.” ~ Socrates
“First get rid of the log in your own eye;
then you will see well enough
to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
Jesus in Matthew 7:5
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- It’s much easier to focus on “fixing” another person (a spouse, a child, a friend) than to look within. In many instances, Jesus wants us to leave the other person to him. Is there someone in your life right now that you’re trying to “fix?”
- The most effective way to help others is for us to bring a “non-anxious presence” (“our best selves”) into our relationships with them. Do you regularly have a non-anxious presence?
- Can you spend time before God in silence and stillness? Are you too busy to be without anxiety? How can you have a more “non-anxious presence?”
Abba, I know I need to slow down, be still, and be more quiet before you and others. Help me learn to rest in your love – so I can bring my very best self to others.
For More: Living Truthfully by David K. Flowers
Thanks for reading! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)