In Search Of The Ordinary
What is ordinary? What is normal? I had coffee with an old high school friend of mine earlier this week and as we chatted he asked about my many degrees. I would not trade the blessing of continuing education for anything but I do find my approach to how I process things much different these days. At one time it was all about spirited debate. In the midst of debate the goal would somehow always change from the simple exchange of ideas to winning the debate and proving a point. But now it seems the noise of scholarly debate seems less important. Could it be the noise of the debate sometimes drowns out the importance of getting closer to God?
One of my favorite times of the week is the quiet Sunday morning solitude of the prayer room. It’s here I find what could be described as quiet rest in the silence just spending time with God – sitting with The Master. My dog Samson curls up beside me in the Lazy Boy chair quietly snoozing enjoying his time beside his master as well. In his younger days he would grab a toy and want to play but now he seems quite content to sleep and just be.
I’m once again reading A Year With Merton and today the devotional spoke about a return to the ordinary. In this particular Merton journal entry he writes;
Here at the hermitage everything is ordinary and silent. What is not ordinary – the tension of meeting people, discussion, ideas. While this is good, illusion gets into it. The unimportant becomes important. Words and images become more important than life.
We live in a world full of distractions, clutter and noise. To truly grow in the things of God we need to find a way to strip away the noise and then – just as Elijah did – find the still small voice of God in the silence. Merton concludes his journal entry for this particular day by writing; “I need very much this silence. Here alone can I find my way because here alone the way is right in front of my face and it is God’s way for me – there really is no other”. I’m not saying the only way to find God is to withdraw from life totally and become a hermit as Merton did. But maybe there is some sound truth in the importance of getting away from the noise of life from time to time and find the silence where we discover the “still small voice of God” alive and well – and very refreshing.