Deepening Our Inner Silence Leads to Surfacing of Wounds We've Kept Hidden

"Contemplation is not about achieving bliss as a state of being, but rather a conscious embrace of all, at the cost of being our authentic selves, joy and suffering alike." - from handout given by Br. Don Bisson at the first retreat weekend. (My italics added.) I believe the quote originates from Thomas Keating, but I am not certain.

I was warned by the facilitators of the Contemplative Formation Program at Mariandale that all sorts of inner turmoil would begin to surface as I continued my contemplative practices. Even my spiritual director, Jeanine, wished on me the release of inner wounds, which at the time seemed to me a strange wish. But I had just confessed to her that since so many people had warned me this would happen, I had begun to wonder if I was really making progress since it wasn't happening to me.

Well I shouldn't have worried, because in the last month it hit me like a ton of bricks. I found myself feeling guilty, blind, and angry at myself over a relationship with another person; totally unaware until that point how unfair I had been, leading to me breaking down in tears as I faced my failing. Yet there is hope and progress as a result of the breakthrough. One of our required readings is Martin Laird's "Into the Silent Land," in which he writes,

"Contemplation is the way out of the great self-centered psychodrama. When interior silence is discovered, compassion flows. ... We cannot pass through the doorways of silence without becoming part of God's embrace of all humanity in its suffering and joy. ... Fear remains frightening, but we are not afraid of fear. Pain still hurts, but we are not hurt by pain."

What particularly helped in my efforts was the small group meeting we held last week. As I recounted to the others in the group what I had been going through in the past month, I almost broke down again, but what I received from them was unconditional acceptance and support. And I was able to do the same for them. We commented on how comfortable we had become with each other, how willing to open up, because we have grown to trust each other. Each person is going through their own struggles, but we are willing to listen to and encourage each other. It is such a gift.

At the end of the meeting, Janet, our facilitator, suggested we give each other hugs. A small gesture, perhaps, but it was the first time we had done it, and it felt good. I am a proponent of hugs.

I also am a huge proponent of Mariandale's program. It is not for everyone, but if you feel a desire to deepen your spiritual life, to feel God in everyday life, this is a wonderful way to do it. I strive to see God within everything, particularly within the people I meet. Once you start really looking for God, you find out she's been right there all the time, loving you.


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