Francisco de Zurbarán. Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose. Norton Simon Museum.
Nothing is so one with the nature of God as stillness. To live a spiritual life is to live in the presence of God—to be still and know. Stillness is a deliberate act of the will, our response to Jesus’ love call to come and listen, learn, and abide. If we will discipline our minds to still our anxious thoughts and quietly keep watch with Him, the journey will begin to unravel its magnificent mystery.
All of life flows in an intimate proximity to the sacred. It is this proximity that endows everything that exists with ultimate significance, with supernal beauty and mystery.1 We live amidst the shimmerings and the whispers of such a Great Beauty, but the fog of inattention, fear, and anxiety descends over the eyes of our heart and obscures our view of Reality.
It is the fog that is the illusion.
Stillness allows the Holy Spirit space to awaken us and lead us out of the impenetrable mist up onto the high plateau of freedom and love. So, we make the choice to enter into refreshing stillness, quieting the negative voices, opening attentively, allowing the Light to pour into us and slowly dispel the fog that has crept in. Beauty awakens within us, and we become aware of the movement of God in the depths of our being—we remember Whose and who we are.
We become completely transparent to Love like a windowpane, so clean the Light can flow through unhindered. Empty now of our own thoughts, emotions, will and illusions, we are in a passive state before God, completely submissive, surrendered, and receptive—we have abandoned ourselves into the hands of God. At last, the messenger has become the message. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” We finally see that everything in our lives—all of the pain and all of the beauty—has been woven together into the huge tapestry of divine love. The will is disciplined, the old voices are quieted, the heart is surrendered, and we hear only the voice of the Beloved saying, ‘I love you, I love you; I have loved you since the beginning of time. I will not abandon you.’The Hidden Life Awakened page 215
Such an intimate awakening is conversion, and it happens over and over and over, until at last we grasp that the meaning of life is held in the wondrous mystery of God’s love. Now we can move with Jesus from the cloistered seclusion of stillness and prayer back into the mundane chaos that waits to engulf us—but it isn’t frightening anymore—it becomes an opportunity to offer presence and compassion in the midst of it.