Do not try to save the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create a clearing
in the dense forest of your life
and wait there patiently,
until the song that is your life falls
into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself to this world
so worthy of rescue.
-Clearing by Martha Postlewaite
Do you ever long for the clearings in your life?
When I was a student minister, a supervisor asked me about my spiritual practices which cultivated quiet and renewal. I explained that I found renewal in being engaged with the world (a strong extrovert). He nodded and then inquired, “but where did you find the quiet?” I explained—to my credit—in an intricate way that life was too busy for quiet.
I know what it is to run circles around my own life. When I don’t make the quiet spaces, the clearings, in my own life I often ask what is it that I am afraid of? Often for me, I run circles in my life when I am running away from something or when I have lost my trust in the world. A deep part of spiritual growth is developing trust. For some, this trust is in God and for others this trust is in an abiding love throughout creation.
It can be tempting to think of the clearing as a physical space or time.
Christine Valters Painter, a Benedictine oblate, describes the self in two parts.
The monk in me feels the call of moving inward. My inner monk knows the deep wisdom to be found in rest, in slowness and spaciousness, in not letting the productivity of the world keep me running ever faster, that the only person who can say "no" and stop and open up to the eternity of this moment, is me. Like the bear, I know the power to be gained from following my natural rhythms, rather than those the world around me demands.
The pilgrim in me feels the call of moving outward. My inner pilgrim feels a longing to travel, to walk across new landscapes, to find myself the stranger so that everything I think I know can be gently released in favor of the deeper truth only revealed in the wandering.
The clearings are all about the inner monk. It is a balance of cultivating the monk and the pilgrim. To hear the invitation from the world to be a source of healing and change, we need the clearing spaces. In the clearing of our own lives, we meet our call and see plainly- beyond ego or self- the ways in which our life can be part of the healing force already flowing about us if we would stop to see its direction and know its quiet, nearly invisible force.
May you find time and space to hear the invitation of the world. She waits in a beauty beyond brokenness and with an infinite hope as ancient as the stars.
I’ll see you there,