The Mystery of Silence and Prayer
Stumbling in the Silence
If you can't pray -- at least say your prayers.
No one is ever prepared to endure the long silence that follows intimacy. No one is prepared to face it when it comes after lovemaking. No one is prepared to face it when it follows a season of intimacy with God. It is the hardest thing to talk about, and it is the hardest thing in the spiritual journey to prepare for. The long silence between intimacies, the interminable pause between words, the immeasurable seconds between pulses, the quiet between epiphanies, the hush after ecstasy, the listening for God -- this is the spiritual journey, learning how to live in the meantime, between the last time you heard from God and the next time you hear from God.
Just as there are seasons of the year, there are seasons of the soul, changes in the atmospheric pressure that sweep over the human spirit. We move in and out of them, often without being aware of them, almost unconsciously, and frequently without appreciation for the new experiences they bring our way. Where does one begin talking about the dips and curves along the spiritual journey? How does a minister admit that she's been left slumping toward mystery more than she has been grasping mystery? What lessons have pulled me through? What happened to all those prayers I prayed and the ones I gave up praying along the way? It seems always that the task before me was learning how to distinguish when it was God who seemed hidden and when it was I who was hiding, and above all, learning how to wait out the time until we found our way back to each other.
Ministers rarely talk about the long dry periods in their spiritual journey. I know they don't because I am one, and I have rarely been willing to bring up the matter in public for fear that listeners would view me as a spiritual fraud. How does one who is supposedly an expert on prayer and spiritual disciplines admit that there are times when her own heart is unable to get through to the God she recommends to others? How does a minister admit that she hasn't heard from God in a long, long time? It is much easier and safer to talk about the springtime of faith, when the desire for inward journeying is insatiable and belief in mystery is irrepressible.
To admit that in the spiritual journey, highs are brief, sporadic, and rare and that the human heart experiences far longer periods of dullness, emptiness, and silence can be threatening. If people accept that inspiration and ecstasy are fleeting, hard-to-come-by experiences, then what is there to look forward to, if all we can expect is to stumble in the dark? To admit that it's all a stumble seems like an admission of failure -- and Protestant ministers have a particularly difficult time admitting their defeats. Blame it on our dissident origins and our works-righteousness inheritance, which resulted in years of being told that if our prayers were met with silence, then the fault lay with no one but ourselves. Or blame it on the hardy dosage of homilies we've endured (and have ourselves given) that have insisted upon viewing God as readily available, waiting only to be sought after, invited in, and embraced. When this is your spiritual legacy, it's difficult to admit aloud to feeling adrift. It's even more difficult to admit to the times when praying feels like a hollow ritual and the closest you can bring yourself to praying is to read about prayer.
The truth is that this journey is best characterized as periods of ecstasy and periods of melancholy; seasons when I can feel the presence of the sacred in my life and seasons when the perception and even the memory of the sacred have all but evaporated from the soul; moments of deep, abiding faith and moments of quiet despair; times of calm and times of clutter; moments when prayer is music and moments when I cannot abide the sound of prayer. Stumbling, staggering, slouching, and crawling forward is not the whole story, to be sure. But stumbling, staggering, slouching, and crawling feel as though they've been the largest part of my journey. It's not possible to tell everything that has happened along the way. I've probably forgotten more than I remember. Nevertheless, fleeting glimpses of the holy that have surfaced from time to time -- however faintly, briefly, and above all mysteriously -- will always be regarded as miracles of grace to me.
An ancient Jewish legend first came across my desk years ago while I was studying for my comprehensive exams as a graduate student, reminding me of the healing power of stories. The next time I encountered the legend was years later while reading Clarissa Pinkola Estes's tiny little book The Gift of Story. No longer a graduate student, I was by this time a professor reeling under the pressure of trying to balance a career as a scholar and the demands of family and love. Both times the legend found me when I was beginning to feel as though bits and pieces of crucial knowledge were slipping away from me as I sat up at night grasping for information that my superiors approved of. Sometimes information gets in the way of knowledge, I eventually concluded. Even now this ancient Jewish legend reminds me how important stories are in helping one find one's way through darkness. On those many occasions when I have not been able either to feel or sense God's divine presence and have grown exasperated by the effort of it all, it is enough simply to cling to the memory of a memory with God. Sometimes just the memory of once having sensed God's nearness, no matter how faintly, no matter how long ago, has been enough to keep me on this journey, convincing me not to turn back, leaving me cherishing the knowledge known intuitively by my soul, even though I no longer remember how my soul first came to know it.
The story is one of the legends of the Baal Shem Tov ("master of God's name") told by his followers, the Hasidim, a Jewish sect of Eastern Europe, which he founded around the middle of the eighteenth century and which lives on to this day. Hasidic teaching centers on rebirth, believing that renewal is possible.
Perceiving that he was dying, the Baal Shem Tov called for his disciples and said, "I have acted as intermediary for you, and now when I am gone you must do this for yourselves. You know the place in the forest where I call to God? Stand there in the place and do the same. Light a fire as you have been instructed to do, and say the prayer as you learned. Do all these and God will come."
Shortly afterward, the Baal Shem Tov died. The first generation of followers did exactly as he had said, and sure enough, God came as always. After this generation passed, the second generation had forgotten how to light the fire the way the Baal Shem Tov had instructed. Nevertheless, they faithfully made the pilgrimage to the special place in the forest and said the prayer they had been instructed to pray. And sure enough, God showed up.
A third generation came along, who had forgotten how to light the fire and no longer remembered the place in the forest where they should stand. But they said the prayer as the Baal Shem Tov had instructed. And again God showed up.
By the fourth generation, no one was around who remembered how to light the fire or where the special place was in the forest. Neither was anyone alive who could recall the prayer the Baal Shem Tov had instructed his followers to pray. But there was one person who remembered the story about the fire, the forest, and the prayer and delighted in telling it over and over. And sure enough, God came.
Often when I lose my way I rely on stories to get me through the deafening silence. I stand in the pulpit before a waiting congregation, open the folder where I've tucked my sermon, and nothing comes to my mind. No grand truths. No proclamations. No eloquent speeches. I'm fresh out of oracles. Nothing but stories. I set out to preach on the doctrine of grace, and nothing comes to mind but stories of grace.
A certain woman with ten coins, precious to no one but herself, loses one, and after a few moments of panic and fright, she lights a lamp, sweeps the entire house, and searches diligently for the coin she had lost. Upon finding it, she calls together all her friends, who are baffled by all the ruckus she has created over a simple coin. But she knows the true value of one coin when you're down to your last ten. She knows how easy it is to lose and how rare it is to find precious items. She knows that there's more to celebrate than meets the eye. In order to find her coin, she had to sort and sweep through the clutter in her home. And that itself was as much a cause for celebration as finding the precious coin. To find what you're looking for right smack in the midst of life's clutter is a miracle of grace. It is the story of losing something you couldn't bear to lose and finding more than what you lost.
I have lost my faith a thousand times, only to find it nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine times. Belief in mystery has waned and reappeared repeatedly throughout the journey. I wonder whether God is as weary of me as I am sometimes of my own soul. This on-again, off-again love affair with the sacred is unnerving. But it is, oddly enough, also fascinating. As frightening as it is to lose one's way on a journey one started out on confident of the route ahead, there is also something challenging about starting over, however ludicrous that may sound, of having the chance to experience the divine once more as though it were the first time.
Around and Around
Autumn to winter, winter into spring,
Spring into summer, summer into --
So rolls the changing year, and so we change;
Motion so swift, we know not that we move.
DINAH MARIAH MULOCK CRAIK
Outside my front window are three crape myrtle trees I planted a few years back when we moved into our home. I love the way they explode into a deep pink bloom just when everything else in my garden is beginning to wilt and brown from the summer heat. Every year that they bloom I find reasons to move the furniture around in the house so I can get a better view out the front window. I use their bloom as my reminder that the summer is almost over and that a new school year is right around the bend and I'd better pack as much fun as possible in these last remaining weeks of summer. But the problem is that my crape myrtle trees never bloom the same time every year. The first year they bloomed in the second week of August. The second year they bloomed in the last week of July. This year I thought I noticed the first bud during the middle of July, when it was so hot everything outside looked as though it was melting from the heat. So soon? I asked myself as I walked back and forth in front of the window, trying to get a better view. I get to enjoy their luscious color for only four to six weeks before they shed their leaves, and then I have to wait another year before their color returns. In the meantime, I change my whole life around to accommodate them. And it's worth it. I can't say exactly when they will return to me next year, but I know I'll be here waiting with my chair in the window for the first sign that the mood around these parts is changing.
Seasons are not stages I learn from the view outside my window. They are neither linear nor chartable. They do not begin and end at predictable times, and no two seasons are alike. Seasons are cyclical. We move in and out of them a thousand times as our spirits grow and stretch. We know that a new one is upon us by noticing the changes in the texture of what is going on inside us. The inner atmosphere has changed. Perhaps a hush comes over the soul. Praying hurts. It's harder to focus. After a period of devouring everything written about the awakening of the spirit, we let weeks go by without visiting the altar deep inside us. After a period of seizing every opportunity possible to steal away to quiet and meditation, we experience months in which noise is the chant of saints.
As painful as they may be to endure, seasons are a welcome change. Deep within us is an internal clock regulating when it is time to gaze and when it is time to glimpse, when it is time to speak and when it is time to listen. We will gaze again, but for now we must content ourselves with a glimpse. We will speak again, but in the meanwhile we must be satisfied with listening.
Moving in and out of the seasons of the soul means above all to grow in fits and jerks, lurches and stops, leaps and crawls, and for the most part. This becomes clear when the spiritual journey is placed within the context of ordinary life, where the seasons of the soul intersect with the chaos of a full life (in my case, marriage, motherhood, ministry, scholarship, writing, living). We hope we are better human beings for becoming mindful and attentive to the spiritual side. If we are not, we will settle for being better listeners for the most part. We're never as far along as we think, because the spiritual journey is circular. We are always repeating ourselves, returning to old themes, reexamining the same issue from a different angle and from the vantage point of a different season. We don't move on; we return wiser.
Even ministers on the journey lose their way. Even specialists in prayer at some point lose interest in prayer. We struggle. We have doubts. We grow afraid. We become bored. We are tempted to walk away. Sometimes we do. But some of us return, and walk away, and return again and again. Why? Because the point of a journey is the going, the movement, the traveling, not just the arriving.
Surrender to the Silence
Waiting sometimes is the only thing left to do. You learn to wait, or you forfeit the lesson you were supposed to learn.
Call it prayer block, a spiritual lull, the wilderness experience, the dark night of the soul. But eventually and invariably we all find ourselves suddenly wrenched into an inner abyss. For a while I blamed my prayer block on the energy spent trying to find bliss in a marriage that, given our feverish schedules, seemed always in need of reinventing. I blamed it on feeling constantly fatigued by all that went into rearing a headstrong but delightfully bewitching toddler whose needs frequently outstripped my own. I blamed it on the absurd juggling act of teaching, writing, speaking, and traveling that frequently left me a mere sentence away from babbling in public. (How many times have I awakened in the middle of the night in my bed at home or in a strange hotel room and asked myself, What city am I in? and, Is the speech over?) Eventually I had to admit that for as far back as I could remember -- which in my case was from the days when I was a teenager eking out a faith in a small storefront Pentecostal church in Atlanta -- I have anguished over what has appeared to me as the on-again, off-again character of my spiritual journey. The occasional periods of inspiration and awe seem always to be followed by longer periods of spiritual ennui. In a tradition that took religious ecstasy as proof of spiritual legitimacy, I often felt like a fraud back then for pretending to feel something I rarely felt. I thought something was wrong with me. I recall now the long prayers, the quiet tears, the secret longings, the fasts for days on end in hopes that God would fill me with awe and ecstasy. For years I felt like a failure. For several decades more, after carving out work for myself as a minister and biblical scholar, I continued to be dogged by guilt and shame.
One day I decided to surrender. After months, perhaps years, of pretending to feel something I didn't feel, I decided to confess to the deep freeze that for a long time had had me in its grip. I stopped scolding my heart because of my inability to pray as I once had. I stopped harassing my soul about my failure to feel God's presence when I prayed or listened to sacred music or stood in the pulpit to speak. And I stopped badgering God for a sign, a gesture, a sound, some indication that I hadn't lost my way, that I needn't walk away from years of ministry, preaching, counseling, teaching in a seminary, and writing what some term "inspirational" books. Slowly, gradually, I began accepting the possibility that something inside me had changed. My soul no longer responded to the same spiritual stimuli. When finally I stopped flogging myself for the hollow feeling I'd been carrying around inside for months, I began to notice a pattern. After every high there came a spiritual low. After months of maturing in my prayer life and of feeling myself becoming increasingly sensitive to the nearness and presence of the divine in my surroundings, I noticed myself becoming spiritually listless and unable to muster any passion for the disciplines I'd undertaken to nurture the inward journey. It was as if I had slammed into a brick wall, spiritually speaking. Indeed, for as long as I could remember giving myself willingly, gladly over to a belief in mystery, I remembered experiencing periods when I was barely able to stand to hear my own prayers. And thinking back on it, I realized that this wasn't the first time something in me had shut down. The soul flourishes and withers scores of times in the face of the sublime.
Rummaging lately through some old journals, I came across a poem that I wrote almost twenty years ago. I read it and was stunned to discover how much things both change and stay the same. Even back then, I knew my relationship with God was changing. And twenty years later, I am amazed to see how little I have changed.
15 June 1980
I usedta bow,
now I stand
before God's throne.
I usedta close my eyes,
now I stare
I usedta do what was expected,
now I do what I must
to make this faith
faithful to me.
I usedta be afraid of God,
now I take my chances
tapping my feet,
listening for God.
Even back in my twenties I was trying to find new ways to pray. I was trying to learn how to pray over the noise of a full life. I decided to take my chances with the silence, complaining that if the deep freeze was my fault, then if God was trying to get my attention, God would just have to learn to yell over the sounds of a life being lived. In the end, God didn't have to yell. I learned to trust the silence after years of fighting against it. I learned to let go of my naive belief that breaking out into goose bumps at talk of the sacred was a signal of intimacy with God. I learned to trust the winter months of faith, when it's difficult to remember why one ever bothered to believe. I stopped being so hard on myself and demanding that, as a wife, scholar, and writer, I should always feel excited about what I was doing, or that I should, as a mother and a minister, always sparkle with alertness and insight. This was hard to accept in a culture where, at the first sign of dullness or tedium or monotony, it's all right to give up, walk away, or try something new in hopes of finding new meaning, new thrills, new satisfaction. I stopped complaining about "going through the motions." I decided it was all right to pray (whether in new or old ways) and not feel anything. The point was to pray, whatever way I could bear at the moment. Rituals are routines that force us to live faithfully even when we no longer feel like being faithful. Until our heart has the time to arouse itself and find its way back to those we love, rituals make us show up for duty.
Neither my years in seminary nor those devoted to doctorate work in biblical studies prepared me for these periodic pulls into darkness, when prayer hurt and when journeying inward felt like a walk through a burning corridor. While loss, grief, illness, and disappointment certainly have a way of hurling us into a spiritual abyss, not all declines can be traced to a specific cause, nor can they always be easily predicted or charted. Eventually we have to accept that dying and rising, freezing and thawing, resting and rebounding, sleeping and awakening are the necessary conditions for all growth and creativity. The journey of the soul unfolds in a continual cycle, much like the seasons of nature. Spring brings a renewal of growth and energy, summer is a time of strength and confidence, and in the fall we are ablaze with insight. And then comes winter, the season of myriad agonies. As one preacher from ancient times put it so well, "For everything there is a season, and a time for everything under heaven?' One of the most painful lessons is learning how to appreciate the hush of winter, when more growth takes place underground than above ground, and there in quiet, unnoticeable ways.
Eventually I had to learn that sometimes less is more. I learned to recognize the seasons of my journey. I learned to listen to my soul and to give it the much needed rest it clamored for. I gave myself permission to stop thinking I had to be superb all the time; it was all right to stutter and putter along. I discovered that it was all right no longer to remember what in former seasons I thought was so wonderful about ministry, marriage, mothering, and the spiritual process. It would come back to me.
Winter returns a thousand times. But so does spring. Even though it's easy to become overwhelmed by the gloominess, and although an occasional wallow in self-pity makes eminent sense (to me, anyway), there are things to be gained from staying put, taking it a day at a time, slowing down, and giving love, hope, and renewal a chance. It's possible to live through winter. And when we do, we're glad, for there are lessons learned in the winter that not only cannot be learned in the spring but must be mastered in order to appreciate the spring.
Believing in Believing
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.
It never occurred to me, because no one ever told me, that I would one day as a minister stop believing -- stop believing in God as I once had, stop believing in the religion I had been practicing most of my life, stop believing in what I was doing, stop believing that my life as minister, professor of Bible, and writer made any sense. Had I been warned that this day was coming, I might have been more careful. I would have watched for the telltale signs. I might have thought to protect myself against the wear and tear on a life of faith. I could have taken care to tend more assiduously to the nicks and scrapes a praying heart endures over the years -- the unanswered prayers, the weeks of not being able to pray, the contradictions, the hypocrisy in the church, the months of living with the silence of God.
But I didn't know. I didn't notice that bits and pieces of my faith were eroding away. One day I just looked around and the passion for prayer was gone.
It is enough for me these days just to believe in believing.
Why didn't I listen to those around me (professors, colleagues, ministers) when they said that I couldn't keep this up much longer, this trying to juggle faith with the cold, hard gaze of objectivity? Praying for the sick, administering the sacraments, mounting pulpits with sermon notes, counseling the distressed, churning out pastoral remarks for the church newsletter -- these tasks call for a certitude that my scholarly self has been trained to mock. "How can you hope to be taken seriously as a scholar if you insist upon taking part in all that mumbo jumbo in the church?" asked colleagues with raised eyebrows when word circulated that I was actively involved in church work. "How can you be a scholar when you talk so passionately and intimately about God?" colleagues in ministry and lay members in church often sidled up to me and inquired. I had no answer for either group. I didn't understand it myself. How do you explain belief and unbelief being able to occupy the same space? You can't. But I was confident that the two could coexist amicably in me. Each in its own way reinforced the other, I told myself. Nature, it seemed to me, had dealt me a cruel hand, making me something of a spiritual hunchback, twisting and misshaping my inner self in ways that left me at heart both a cynic and a believer. I had witnessed and experienced enough evil in the world to question seriously, even laugh at, the notion of God and faith; but I was also convinced that life is a mystery, for which evil and rationality do not render a sufficient account.
For a while I was content to keep the juggling act going. But now one of the balls had disappeared.
How long did I think this would last? How long did I think I could go on skirting the issues? How foolish I was for thinking no one noticed that I had begun to equivocate. Out of my snobbish, elitist training as a scholar I underestimated people's intelligence. And I overestimated my own. "This is not a course on what God said" I announced every year to first-year students who enrolled in my introductory course in the Old Testament; "this is a course on what the ancient Hebrews said God said." That was my pronouncement the first day of class every semester. But on Sundays I found myself standing before church audiences naked as a bark. "Speak, Lord, for your servants hear." Years of trying to wean students off the "why" questions had taken their toll on me. I thought I could convince them to be satisfied first with the "what" questions, hoping they would become as fascinated as I with "where" and "when -- which, of course, they didn't, since it's "why" that, in the first place, makes people stagger into sanctuaries, synagogues, and temples on holy days in search of burning bushes. I worked so hard at trying not to let my own beliefs spill over into my classroom that I didn't know how to talk any longer about God. Not with assurance. Not with confidence. God didn't drop by anymore. I'd spent so many years slaughtering other people's lambs that I looked up and found my own bleating and bleeding themselves. There's no way to take away other people's truth and have your own not be damaged in the process. I felt like the father who brought his epileptic Son to Jesus, begging Jesus, "Have pity on us and help us." Jesus responded with a paradox: "All things are possible to him who believes." The father responded with a paradox of his own: "I believe; help my unbelief!" The only way through my dilemma, it seemed to me, was to confess that I didn't know anymore what to believe. That took more courage than I thought I could muster. But I managed. I stood in the pulpit trembling as I confessed that I didn't know how to believe in God anymore, and I stood before my academic colleagues admitting blushingly to twinges of faith I still had in such things as divine creation, supernatural healing, and the Resurrection. Confessing unbelief to believers and belief to unbelievers seemed to me at times the only sensible thing to do. I chose to preach through my unbelief and to teach my way back to belief.
Perhaps that is as honest as any one of us can ever aspire to be. To pray, to preach, to teach, and to hope as though we knew for sure that there is really someone on the other side of the door who heals, who hears, who answers. The issue in prayer is not to pray because we are certain, but to pray because we are uncertain. It is a risk where the risk itself is the outcome. I was never certain even when I believed. I was only certain that I believed. I was trying not to make a fool of myself more for what I knew than for what I hoped to gain.
The clock has just announced that it is 10:30 A.M. In thirty minutes, I must stand before a waiting congregation as though I believe. I have chosen a passage from a little-known prophet by the name of Habakkuk, whose cry to God is fitting to my heart: "O Lord, how shall I cry for help, and you will not listen?"
"The difference between you and me" -- a friend's words to me long ago come to mind as I type the last sentence of the sermon -- "is that you preach your questions, whereas I preach my answers." She was right. And she has the accolades to show for it. Her reputation as a preacher has far exceeded mine, both then and now.
A Chance Encounter
When you stop looking for something, you see it right in front of you.
"So, how do I get in touch with my spiritual side?"
It's the kind of question that, as a minister and professor of Bible, I am asked at least a dozen times a month. But coming as it did one spring evening in Boston -- from a rather successful, well-dressed, thirtyish African American female corporate executive as she deftly shifted the gears of her BMW with one hand and steered gracefully with the other hand -- the question caught me by surprise. I sat quietly for a moment thinking how I'd heard drunks on bar stools broach the topic of spirituality with greater poise. The mixture of contempt and curiosity in her voice warned me that I probably wouldn't have anything to say that would satisfy my interrogator.
"It's obvious from the fact that you asked the question that you're already in touch with your spiritual side," I said, turning to look out the window at the dilapidated elegance of the Boston landscape. I secretly hoped she wouldn't pursue the conversation any further. I didn't feel like talking about God or spirituality -- or anything that reminded me how long it had been since I had prayed. Besides, I wasn't up for the challenge of talking to this direct, efficient managerial type about subjects that defy tidy, reasonable prose, subjects like grace, prayer, faith, God, and mystery.
"You don't get it. I haven't been to church in years -- except for when I attend funerals. And prayer...well, I doubt that 'God, I hope that check doesn't bounce' falls within the category of a real prayer." She laughed.
"This is prayer right here," I interjected a bit impatiently.
"Yeah, right. Well, it doesn't feel like prayer to me." She paused. "Besides, I hardly think my mother would be satisfied with this as prayer. If she had her way, I'd be somewhere on my knees, my head covered, with a rosary in my hand, mumbling something about mercy, sins, forgiveness and asking to be saved from eternal damnation."
"That's one kind of prayer. And there's a time and place for that kind of prayer, I suppose. This is another kind of prayer."
"You mean to tell me that I'm praying and don't even know it?" She laughed. "Maybe there's hope for me yet." She paused.
"What sense is there in praying if you don't believe in God?" Her tone had changed. She sounded pensive.
"You pray in order to believe" I answered.
"That sounds backwards to me. What's the sense in praying if you don't believe?"
"Sometimes you can't wait for your mind to catch up. Sometimes the heart has to take the initiative." I could feel her glancing at me out of the corner of her eye as she steered the sensitive machine down the street. I didn't trust myself to look directly at her.
It was her time to stare quietly ahead.
Do you actually believe all that stuff about God, faith, prayer, and miracles you were talking about in front of everybody this morning?" she asked. There was more curiosity in her voice this time than contempt.
"Yes. Sort of." I stumbled. I hated myself for stumbling. This is no time for you to waver, I thought to myself. Not before a skeptic. She'll eat you alive. "Even when I don't, or can't, believe, I still believe that it's important to believe," I heard myself saying. "That's enough to keep me stammering prayers."
"You don't mean to tell me that you have doubts yourself?" she countered, taking her foot off the clutch a little too quickly. The car jerked forward, causing my head to fall back into the headrest. She turned her head slightly toward me with a smirk on her face.
My mind drew a blank. I felt trapped. Nothing slippery or profound came to mind.
"So, why the hell don't you just walk away from it and stop being a hypocrite?" The smugness in her voice was unmistakable.
"For the same reason I don't walk away from any of the myriad of things I've committed myself to. I don't want to live my life based solely on my feelings. Feelings change from one moment to the next. I don't walk away from my marriage just because I don't love my husband today. Eventually it returns."
"If you're lucky." She sneered. A ring was missing from the fourth finger of her left hand.
"Then I continue to pray until the belief returns," I answered, if only in my head. I can't remember what I said to her after that, nor do I remember today how the conversation three years ago concluded.
Ours was one of those chance encounters that leaves your soul spinning for years to come. It began as an unremarkable encounter, a chance meeting, an ordinary moment in time, as most encounters with the holy are on the surfac
A Ministers Journey Through Silence And Doubt
Listening For God
A Ministers Journey Through Silence And Doubt
In this deeply affecting book, Weems addresses the believer's yearning for God through periods of inconstancy, vacillation, and disenchantment. Her own spiritual disquietude will be familiar to all who struggle to maintain faith while the details of daily life -- negotiating with children and spouses, caring for ailing parents, living up to professional expectations, developing hobbies, managing finances, and planning for the future -- compete for energy with one's relationship with God. In sharing her own strategies for redefining mundane rituals so that they contribute to reverence and devotion, Weems offers a beacon of light for all believers struggling to listen for God amidst the din of worldly demands and distractions.
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