Always Remaining Open
by Mark Votava
Sometimes my life is closed off to openness. I want to be locked into who I think God is to me as I have experienced God in the past. Thinking I understand God has not served me well. God cannot be captured in what I can say to describe what I think God is.
But I am learning that silence and solitude leads me to deeper mysteries that I cannot always explain in myself. I am becoming the change I want to see in the world. I am taking responsibility for my feelings. I am starting to sense life in me.
This week I have had to just slow down and reflect on my own happiness. I had to spend some time in silence and solitude while saying to myself within, “I am okay, I am content, just rest in that reality, breathe slowly and feel your feelings.”
When I get in touch with myself in this way it always makes my life a little better. I am more at peace. Compassion and love come more naturally. I start to understand the life of Jesus more.
Solidarity with others seems to make sense. Forgiveness is always easier. I seem to be lighter in my mood. I become more empathetic and sleep better at night.
- Christ practiced silence and solitude
Christ practiced silence and solitude because he needed to embody a relational reality to those in his local context.
- A mountainside
Scripture says, “…he went up on a mountainside by himself…” (Matthew 14:23).
- An integration with the real
Christ often practiced silence and solitude to embrace reality within the human context he lived in. Christ lived within the real in his humanity. On mountainsides, in gardens, in the desert, on long walks, in lonely places, and in homes; Christ practiced silence and solitude to find an integration with the real. Reality was constantly being revealed through his embodiment of truthfulness in the way he treated others.
- Embodying the kingdom of God
Christ was embodying the kingdom of God in his locality through his love for his neighbors. This was how he lived. This is how he died. This is how he grew up.
- Expressing love and compassion
His humanity would not be separated from embodying the essence of the kingdom of God in his local context. All he had was his local context to experience reality. All he had were the people around him to express his love and compassion.
- Following Christ in our local context
Christ’s silence and solitude opened him up to this reality. He was one with the real in his humanity and we are called to follow him in our local context. We are called to be his hands and feet in everyday life in the parish. The mystical imagination is constantly revealing reality to us in the place we inhabit together.
- God is always more than our present concept of God
Mary Jo Meadow writes, “God is always more than our present concept of God. We must always remain open to receive God’s further self.”
How can we practice silence and solitude?