Monday, 6 December 2010


“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10)

However rarely I may consciously wish to be drawn from the realities of the world around me, and from the undeniable awareness of something beyond that physically sensed reality, I am, at times, as easily distracted from them as anyone else. Television, radio, music, and the accumulation of past and present interests safely tucked away but readily available on a hard drive, are able to distract me as easily and completely as ever; though thankfully not for long periods, and not to the complete exclusion of everything else. It is never long before I am drawn back, in far more powerful ways, to the thoughts and feelings which really do seem to make me tick: the ways of seeing the world and the power behind its very existence, that give my heart a reason to keep beating.

Disconnecting the computer to move it to another room during a redecorating session, felt like a major wrench while it was being done, but once unplugged, it remained out of action for a while and I got used to its absence. The simple actions of switching off and unplugging it also disconnected me from some of my routines and I found a different form of space in which to think about whatever needed thought. I had not been unplugged from my own power supply, but felt as though I had been put onto ‘standby’. My time was soon taken up by something else which, once started, became difficult to put down. That is ongoing, but it has acted as a reminder that I am frighteningly susceptible to distractions of one kind or another.

It has also made me aware that what I think of as distractions are not necessarily things which steer my trains of thought away from the areas on which I believe they should be focussed: whatever may seem important to me at the time. They are the bulky areas of thought which press gently from just beyond my normal limits of awareness, and which, under that almost imperceptible pressure, flow silently in to fill any empty space as soon as it is created.

The inner void is well known to me, as is the danger inherent in the inevitable fact that it will be filled by something, whether wanted or unwanted, good or bad, blessing or curse. I have previously written about distraction (20th September 08), and on the infilling of God’s own presence as a form of emptiness within the void created by grief; a transformation of awareness from a hollow form of death to a restful and healing peace that precedes our recognition of His presence within our desolation. That is indeed a blessing; but in every situation, not only those in which we may fully recognize and comprehend our vulnerability, we are nonetheless vulnerable.

My separation from the computer resulted in periods spent on something else which still occupies large chunks of my available time. I had not been longing to find a gap of some sort in which I could make a start on it; it had not been waiting for the opportunity; it had seemingly come from nowhere as a means of filling the gap which had not previously been there. And it was from that realization that my present thoughts have come. I have always longed for space, for peace, for quiet, for emptiness, for solitude; but is that longing, at least partially, a cover for my fear of those very same things? Rather than using the newfound space to appreciate and deepen the space itself, I maintained my level of busyness by transferring my mental energies to something new which kept me from the space for which I was supposedly always longing. I am always telling myself that I should lay things aside and give more time to simply being with God. Why do I not? I tell myself that, in reality, I spend almost no time in prayer, and should do all I can to change that; that I should receive any space, when it comes, as a blessing granted specifically for that purpose. Why do I not?

Knowing that my longing for quiet and solitude are inseparable from my longing to spend time in God’s presence, and knowing from experience that there is nothing more beneficial to my own peace, contentment and wellbeing than spending time in silence and prayer, what is there that could possibly keep me from it when the opportunity arises? And an immediate effect of asking myself that question is, as it were, the lifting aside of a veil that has been obscuring the truth: the opportunity is there – and always has been there – all the time, not only when I discover a newly created space in which all things may be possible.

St Paul’s words in Romans 7:14-25, have been prodding at me since I began to unravel my thinking at the keyboard; and though they are written with specific reference to the effects of our sinful nature, they are providing me with new food for thought around similarities between that nature and sin itself, and the distractions to which I am referring. They are not sinful distractions, but they do at times steer my awareness away from spiritual matters, and from my awareness of God’s presence. Is that not the beginning of all sin?

There are many ways of picking and choosing our way through scriptures: both good and bad; and there are just as many ways of refusing to do so which can be no less misguided and even abusive towards what God had intended. In the present context, I find it helpful to read St Paul’s words adjusted to fit my circumstances, and I write them here in the knowledge that some may not approve, but also in the knowledge that any disapproval is born of an inability to see and to hear, and thus to understand the fullness of what we have been given through the word of God. These verses are absolutely true where sin is concerned, and I have not altered that truth. I have not read the words and decided they are not relevant to me, but rather, have found a way to delve deeper into understanding my own sinfulness by using the truth they contain to speak into a personal situation which at first glance would have no connection with St Paul’s words. I am open to any scriptural words to speak meaningfully to me. And who would dare to say that I have not been guided to read these words in this way?

We are well aware that the Law is spiritual: but I am a creature of flesh and blood; I am easily distracted and misled. I do not understand my own behaviour; I do not act as I mean to. While I am acting as I do not want to, I still acknowledge the Law as good, so it is not myself acting, but a power which works to distance me from God’s law. For though the will to do what is good is in me, the power to do it is not: the good thing I want to do, I rarely do; instead, I follow my distractions. But every time I do what I do not want to, then it is not myself acting, but that unrecognized power working against me and against all that is good. So I find this rule: that for me, where I want to do nothing but good, evil is close at my side. In my inmost self I dearly love God's law, but I see that acting on my mind and body there is a different law which battles against the law I long to keep in my mind. Who will rescue me from this situation? God – thanks be to him through Jesus Christ our Lord. So it is that I myself with my mind obey the law of God, but in my disordered nature I obey that which distracts me.’

Surely my distractions, though not in themselves sinful, are inseparable from my sinfulness and from that ‘different law which battles against’ God’s law. Without any doubt, at all times, ‘evil is close at my side’. My best way to remain aware of it, and to counter it, is to end as I began: to continue to maintain, to the best of my ability, an ongoing spiral of awareness of his presence in my life; and to strive continually to obey that simple, peaceful instruction: to –

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
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