A Secret Recipe For Befriending God
Published: May 13, 2010
Have you ever had a day when all the floors are polished, the beds are made, the bathrooms are gleaming, the larder is full—and there’s nothing left to do?
Instead, it seems I am always chasing a frisky dust bunny across the living room, scouring the bathtub or putting laundry away. As I rush around like a maniac, I promise myself that as soon as things are orderly, I will sit peacefully on the porch swing and do nothing at all. Sadly, though, sometimes the whole weekend wings by and the porch swing remains completely empty—and I didn’t have a moment of real peace. Oh, yes, I did go to Mass, where I had a few moments to pray in silence, but somehow a few minutes a week seems pitiful indeed.
I’ve noticed that the more I fill time, the faster it seems to go by, and the more frantic I feel. When life is overcrowded with social events, appointments and deadlines, I blink an eye and it is summer, blink again—and it’s Christmas.
Fortunately, there is a secret recipe for slowing down time for folks who are hungry to taste the peace that surpasses understanding, which only God can give us.
The secret is found in one of my favorite books, “Beginning to Pray.” There, Russian Orthodox writer Anthony Bloom suggests sitting down for a few minutes each day—and doing nothing at all. This means no reading, no talking on the phone, no TV, no music. It’s just you and God, sitting there together.
The point is to clear a space for God in our lives, just like we do when a friend visits us. Most of us wouldn’t think of vacuuming the living room when a friend is with us. Instead, we would give that person our full attention, sitting with her and listening to her stories.
But we rarely put that kind of energy into befriending God. Instead, he is often relegated to a few minutes at night when we recite our laundry list of needs before dropping off to sleep. The rest of the day, we are shopping, e-mailing, talking, cleaning, working. He waits for us, quietly and gently, while we rush around like madmen, completely unaware of him.
Bloom suggests that we set a timer when we begin our practice of sitting in silence. This will prevent our glancing at the clock every minute or so to see how much time has passed. We can start by setting the timer for five minutes, and then work our way up to 10 or 15 minutes.
As Bloom puts it, “It’s God’s own time, and you settle back in (it) quietly, silently and peacefully.”
Bloom advised an elderly woman who lived alone to give God 15 minutes a day, and before too long, she made quite a discovery. She told him that she gradually encountered a mysterious presence in the silence of her little room. And she said it was “Him who is all stillness, all peace, all poise.”
Bloom also tells a story about an old peasant who spent hours in the chapel, sitting quietly and apparently doing nothing. When a priest asked him what he was doing there all that time, the man said, “I look at Him, He looks at me and we are happy.”
And this, really, is the secret of befriending God. As we sit quietly on the porch swing, or in our cozy chair, we discover that someone waits for us in the silence. He is the very essence of peacefulness and joy. And he always has time for us.
Artwork by Jef Murray (www.jefmurray.com). The Murrays are parishioners at St. Thomas More Church in Decatur. Contact: email@example.com.