That Time of Day

“We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is a friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence…. The more we receive in prayer, the more we can give in our active life.”
-Mother Teresa
A Gift for God

The following was written in the Spring of 2010 during my sabbatical from full time ministry.

In his book, No Man Is An Island, Thomas Merton wrote: “There must be a time of day when the man who makes plans forgets his plans, and acts as if he had no plans at all. There must be a time of day when the man who has to speak falls very silent. And his mind forms no more propositions, and he asks himself: Did they have any meaning? There must be a time when a man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life he had ever prayed; when the man of resolutions puts his resolutions aside as if they had all been broken, and he learns a different wisdom: distinguishing the sun from the moon, the stars from the darkness, the sea from the dry land, and the night sky from the shoulder of a hill.”

I am at that time of day.

A time to fall silent and be still, a time to look deeply into the essence of my life, the essence of life itself, so much of which makes absolutely no sense. And because it makes no sense, I kept moving, kept doing in order not to be overcome by the apparent meaninglessness of it all.

I am in that time of day when I must sit alone…and ponder and pray.

I’ve had within me for a long time a faint desire for genuine solitude but my extremely active life and ministry to the poor always prevented me from fully embracing solitude. My life was very much public, constantly surrounded by people, often on a stage where I was the center of attention. But when I found myself on the verge of exhaustion and suffering from the emotional impact of seeing so much human suffering around the world, I was confronted with a personal crisis that left me with no choice but to do what I needed to do…stop.

I am at that time of day when I can give the day the time it deserves, the time required to allow something real to happen. I am at that time of day when I can be both silent and attentive…attentive to birds flying around my yard, and attentive to the flock of thoughts flying around inside of my head.

I am at that time of day when I am free, free to find and love myself…and God. All the things that have been pulling at me for years, demanding my full attention, such as the nonstop responsibility of trying to right the injustice of chronic poverty, have suddenly vanished like a poorly constructed building in Haiti toppled by an earthquake.

I am at a kairos time of day, a time when I can give myself a chance to let go of everything I know in order to be carried along by the flow of all I do not know, the very flow of the hidden mystery and raw reality of life. Speaking about prayer and the essence of what we truly need, Thomas Merton said, “We don’t have to rush after it. It is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us.”

I’m going to give it time. I’m going to enter the invisible chamber of my soul where I will try to shut out all cares, worries, distractions, idle thoughts…shut out all but God as I wait for God. Oddly enough, say all the saints and mystics, God is already there. It is me who is missing, hidden in the rubble of my own life, buried under the weight of my countless faults, failures, mistakes, illusions and capricious desires. Now is the time to caste off the burden of the past with all its stupid missteps, anxiety over the future with all its uncertainty and seek to see the face of God in this present moment, in this kairos time of day.

I pray the emptiness and darkness that occasionally consumes my inner life does not scar me, does not prompt me to seek the false light of the world and all its empty promises and illusions. My past experience has taught me that whenever the light of God truly penetrates my disordered inner being, I’m able to see clearly how far I am from God, how great the contrast is between who God is and who I am. This is a time for renewal, a time for rejuvenation, a time to enter the fullness of life.

I’m at that time of day when I must sit still in silence…and learn to love afresh with a new, rejuvenated heart.

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1 Response to “That Time of Day”


  1. 1 aliceny June 22, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Thank you, Mr. Straub.
    What you have so passionately described here has moved me. I don’t know quite how to comment. I do wonder, however, if you have ever been able to re-create the experience that you had three years ago during your sabbatical. I hope you have.

    The discarding of the meaningless, superfluous things that clutter up our minds is so important. I know. I have experienced that in trying to reach that place of solitude, waiting to hear what God has to say to my soul.

    Please know that reading your posts has made a profound diffference in my spiritual life. I have also shared many of them with people whom I love and people who are merely casual acquaintances.

    May the Holy Spirit continue to bless you as you, in turn, bless others.

    Alice


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