roamin' catholic: karin rosner

Restless, Fidgety Contemplation

Posted on: September 16, 2010

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. – Augustine of Hippo

I woke up with this old prayer on my mind this morning.

I was super-restless last night and over-tired in every way imaginable. It was a long day and I was feeling over-socialized. My heart was troubled about something. Or was it that God’s heart was even more troubled about something and was searching for me as eagerly as I was seeking him? My mind was a jumble of stressed-out thoughts and emotions, and I was really feeling the need to pray quietly. Hah! Not happening at my church.

I was struggling to find a quiet place to pray within myself as I started for home and I decided to walk from the church down to the West 14th Steet subway station, maybe a mile’s walk. The Lord was urging me to seek Him, and I couldn’t quiet down enough or find the quiet space to pray, so I walked and walked. I got to the subway station and boarded the train I needed to get home.

More noise above my thumbing through my Bible. The boys across the aisle from my seat are laughing loudly together in what I think is Swahili and I’m just fascinated by overwhelming sounds in a cool-sounding foreign babble, and growing even more distracted. “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” I’m still making my way through my Bible reading and finishing Isaiah. My eyes grow heavy with sleep as the train gets emptier and quieter as we snake our way uptown. I’m so exhausted by the time that I reach the Bronx and the tunnel ends that I am naturally quiet, and open. I’m feeling as battered as my old, beat-up, coffee-stained Bible resting in my lap, and that’s when the Lord finally decides to push through the mind-clutter and reveal His presence with what feels like a huge smile and embrace, brief but brilliant – the feeling of God’s overwhelming presence that makes you want to drop to your knees and worship forever (or stand tall and lift holy hands in praise and prayer) … but you can’t because it’s now your train stop and you need to somehow get home with another long walk.

The space for contemplation of Christ’s presence deep within us is there in every Christian. I wish I could show you what that looks like in me and share how I get there, or how God leads me there as I pray. I can’t get to that space on my own, this prayer journey is all about Spirit-filled leading and prayerful, expectant waiting. It’s about Word and Sacrament combined in my prayer and worship life. It’s about being part of a community that prays together. I can learn how to try and quiet myself so that I might allow God to break-in to my personal chaos more quickly, less painfully… and live out of that Christ-centered space so that my movement in life flows out of that Peace that passes all understanding and NOT out of personal chaos… but I don’t know how to share that. I’ve not arrived at that rarified mystical space in my own life yet. I’m still praying, reading more Augustine and the Patristics, Spanish mystics, Eastern Church. Praying more. Reading and worshiping God through Scripture more. Worshiping in any way, shape and form more. Making more space for being absolutely still. Trying breathing and moving instead of sitting still. There’s no one way… it’s only the Spirit’s way of working in us and revealing God’s presence.


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