Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tending Our Souls

We have been having some techinical difficulties with our internet service. This has made it virtually impossible for me to post on Apple Pie for the last three days. I have now found two ways to work around the problem until it is resolved. But these two strategies will mean that my posts may not be put up early in the morning every day. They may be published later, and at various times. If you are one of my readers who logs on every morning, and you don't see a post, check back later. My plan is that there will be something on Apple Pie nearly every day -- at some point in the day. For now, that's the best I can do.


We have been busy with relocating ourselves to our new, temporary home and with visiting family. Funny how these things are -- good, but more involved than you think they will be. Still, we are making progress, and every day that passes brings us a little closer to our goal of being settled in for the duration of our stay.

I have been impressed to write for you about the private, inner world for a bit. This is a wonderful project for busy mothers to undertake in the summer months -- one that pays dividends for a long time. As I write to you about building a private world, I will be attending to my own. I know, from the many hard times I have experienced, that quiet time in the private world refreshes the soul, mind, and body. I've felt pretty strung out lately, hardly like myself at all. I know this is just a result of being very busy and under a lot of stress for an extended period of time, and that the remedy is to rest my soul and mind in my private world, with the Lord by my side. It's not that I need to discuss any particular issue. What matters most is that we are together, in the quiet. The habit of reflection allows important issues the chance to float to the surface of the mind where they can be resolved.

Funny thing is, even though I know this, I don't always do it. At least, not at first. My immediate reaction to stress is to want to run away from it to something that distracts me from it. This is because pleasant diversions make me feel immediately better. My mind is elsewhere, so the agony I was experiencing stops. Diversions aren't bad. In fact, they can be quite useful, as long as I use them wisely. But when they become my only way of coping with the hard things in life, I become more empty, cold, and shallow. I build up a backlog of issues that I have not addressed and which weigh upon me. I hardly notice that I am carrying the extra weight of these things, but I can't figure out why I am so tired all of the time. It's puzzling, too, why I am irritable and short with those I love, and why I feel so dissatisfied with everything around me.

Of course, the answer is simple. I have neglected the inner self that is always present everywhere I go. Everything that matters must come from the invisible center of my life where I decide, consider, ponder, and resolve to act. When that center has been left unattended, where there are unresolved concerns and poor choices that have not been addressed and longings that have not been acknowledged, the strain of life becomes too heavy for me. It is needful at these times for me to be still and to listen to the beat of my own heart, to the hum of my own thoughts, and to the Divine whisper of my Creator. If I do this, then all will be well, and I will know that all is well.

In building a private world, this is the first step -- just pull away from the noise of daily life for a few minutes every day. What do you notice? At first, it may not be pleasant. You may sense many negative things -- anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, longings. Avoid the mistake of running away from these things. Instead, quietly offer them to God and ask Him to begin helping you with them. Ask Him to help you learn to sit quietly with Him. Do not try to solve anything yet. Just be quiet. Put the concerns you have next to you on a piece of paper, if necessary, and learn to just rest from the cares of the day for a few minutes. At first, you may only be able to do this for a minute or two, and you may think you are not accomplishing anything, but remember that the strange and troubling thoughts you have are the very same ones you carry with you all the time, underneath the surface of daily activities. This is a heavy burden, and it's best that you become aware of it. Eventually, you will begin to resolve them, as you learn to sit still and to listen.

Perhaps you will even want to get a journal for recording your reflections and impressions. It can be something as simple as a spiral-bound notebook, or it can be a hardbound journal that you have especially selected for this time. Keeping notes of what comes to mind in the quiet is a good way to get a handle on what is happening in the inner self. Lack of awareness is often our biggest challenge. Doing this daily for a period of weeks is a good exercise.

When we are still, when we learn to pull away from all of the demands and expectations upon us, we can begin to find ourselves. We can learn who we truly are. But first, it is necessary that we remove ourselves, for a few minutes, from the ways that others press upon us who they think we are. Once we do, we can begin to notice the whispers of God, who is trying to help us live the life we long for. We can find meaning, right here, right now, and beauty and peace. It's all ours. We need only be still and open our hearts and work with our Creator on tending our souls.

1 comment:

  1. So grateful for your faithful perseverance. May the Lord strengthen your heart and hands daily.

    Tending our souls, taking our hearts to Jesus. How simple/practical. How often I can think getting busier will conquer and quiet mayhem. Or withdrawing altogether with despairing thoughts is all that remains for me (life's crumbs) when physically I am spent.
    This morning, I reread Isaiah 30, esply v. 15-18.

    It is becoming a calm reassurance (rather than a perpetual aggravation) when God explains that I am not designed to excel upon every point, that I only need to come to Him, walk with Him. Tend my soul (with Him). And then do the next thing ~ together.

    It's funny ~ the more I ponder such a lifestyle, the more I become aware of how incongruent we live life, as a whole, attached to ideals that have nothing to do with His life in us. That those ideals are impediments actually. And I suspect that these are all different for each of us. (It's whatever we deem important, those ideals upon which we choose for ourselves and our families.)

    Thank you for writing about our private lives.


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