I’ve been thinking about what I should ask. I want to sound intelligent and halfway literate when it comes to the Bible, so I ask her about the concept of poverty of spirit. What does it mean, exactly, when Christ said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”?
She shakes the question away—no nonsense—and looks at me directly. “Who is God to you? Do you pray? Who do you pray to?”
I flounder. “Well, uh, yes, I do pray . . . Sort of.”
“And who is God to you?”
I was hoping she wouldn’t ask. “God is, hmm, well, like a swirling galaxy. A large force. Something big. Powerful. Something like a river, maybe.”
She places her fingertips together. “When you pray, what word do you use?”
“I’ve been saying Lord the past few days. Sometimes Jesus.”
“And you don’t feel odd, addressing Him as Lord?”
No, I tell her. Maybe I’m lying because I want to say the right thing. She’s intense. I tell her that I feel odd being here at the monastery, out of place, but for some reason I don’t feel odd using those words.
We talk for an hour, me listening mostly. I desperately want to take notes, but don’t, trying as hard as I can to remember what she’s saying. Somehow, everything suddenly seems significant.
She says, “God is mysterious. We can’t understand what he’s doing many times, but remember that he is always leading you to himself. Sometimes fast. Sometimes more slowly. But always, always, he’s leading you.”
And she says, “You are being created, very deliberately, at God’s own pace. It’s like being pregnant, or cooking. If the soup takes three hours to make, you can’t rush it. Just wait. And while you’re waiting, you have to trust. You can’t presume to know what God is doing. That’s not faith; it’s a false security. You simply have to have faith.”
“I’ve always looked for a system,” I tell her, “but at the same time I’ve always been reluctant to really adopt a system.”
“Christianity isn’t a system,” she says. “It’s a Person. The Person of Jesus Christ. Everything else―doctrine, dogma, church membership―just revolves around this person.”
I tell her that I was worried that I hadn’t accomplished much over this retreat, that maybe I was wasting my time.
“Don’t worry about that,” she says. “You can’t pray your way to heaven. You can’t control the process. You might even go on a detour. But God will always draw you back, helping you along.”
She leans forward. “Remember, you are a work of art by God. You are a masterpiece! You’ve already taken the first steps. [I have?!!] God is helping you every step of the way. Your path is exactly as it should be, at the pace it should be. God wants you to find him. Your understanding might occur in a splendid, wonderful moment. That sometimes happens. Or it might develop very slowly over time. But whatever occurs is God’s handiwork, and his work is perfect and right on schedule.”
Are there any images or phrases from this conversation that strike you?
Can you remember any significant conversations you had early in your spiritual life as an adult?
You can buy this featured book at a special 30% discount by using the code 4503 through 11/1/14. Shipping and handling are additional.