IS THERE JOY IN INNER QUIET
By Vicky M. Krause
When I was a young girl of nineteen, I met an elderly couple at church. Evelyn – Mrs, Douman was confined to a wheelchair and her husband Bill cared for her with the help of their daughter who was a missionary nurse on sabbatical back from Papa New Guinea. They needed help with housekeeping a couple times a week I would go to their place, do simple chores and spend a couple hours doing crafts with Evelyn.
One of the first things I was aware of when I entered their home, was a peace and quiet. Over the years I have wondered about what I experienced in their home. To me it was almost tangible. After a while and after learning about their lives, I attributed it to the fact that they were religious and prayerful people.
Even as they entered the twilight years of their lives, a quiet peace radiated through them and seemed to affect even the atmosphere in their home.
The Dictionary noun for quiet is absence of noise. I’ve known the opposite of this where I’ve walked into a room or place and despite the absence of noise, the air is heavy but I’m not sure of what. Maybe the strong contrast was heightened in me because I had experienced and felt a lot of conflict and chaos in my childhood home and for the first time I experienced something different while in the Douman’s home.
CAN I FIND THE TIME??
Over this last week I have struggled to find the time to do Centering Meditation. Does this sound familiar to you? Am I the only one who struggles? I find If I don’t do Centering Meditation within the first couple of hours of my day, my window of opportunity is usually gone. A couple times during the last week and at odd times in the afternoon, I have retreated to a comfy chair in the spare bedroom but it’s been a conscious decision to take myself away from my daytime activity. I can tell you, it was not easy, yet it was only for twenty minutes. Getting to it first thing in the morning is so much easier.
Once I was settled in my chair, I had to contend with the rapid fired wanderings of my mind. I found myself constantly checking the timer because I was sure that it was broken and I had been there for over an hour when in fact, it was only nine minutes.
CAN I FIND THE CALM?
At times I have felt like I was strip-mining for a nugget of wisdom, truth or anything that would make it easier.
I read a little, sometimes from Thomas Keating- Trappist Monk author of ‘Open Mind Open Heart’. At other times I read my favorite devotional commentaries and a few scriptures from my bible.
CAN I FIND THE PLACE.
It helps if I set up conditions that are conducive to CM, whether that is choosing a quiet time of day without the distractions of phones, TVs etc. For some the only place might be in the bathtub. The point is that we each need to find a time and place that works.
Thomas Keating describes a situation where a family had learnt to block out unavoidable noises and had not only tolerated but accepted the situation.
He relates a story of a family he visited who lived next to the EL train track in New York before it was pulled down. As he sat there, the train went by. It sounded like the train was coming through their house. The family would just stop the conversation until the train went by and then when it was past, they would continue the conversation like it was normal.
CAN MY MIND DEFEAT THE DISTRACTIONS?
Keating compares the train story to the mumbling and internal noise in our heads. Obviously most of us don’t live next to a busy train track. At this point, some might say, this is not for me and give up and yet if they would stay a little longer with CM, and give it a little more time. CM sets up the habitual practice to gradually turn to the silence. At first you might not be aware how much thoughts and nonsense are actually swirling in your head and it might even be a little scary.
Sitting in the quiet after Centering Meditation one morning, that long ago memory of the Bill and Evelyn Douman from New Zealand came back to me. At that moment I had an Ahaa moment and a knowing that I too could experience that quiet and peace.
I am reminded that one of the fruits of the spirit is peace and Centering Meditation directs us to silence and peace.