Before I started reading, I had been pondering...wondering, "Would it be possible at this time in my life for me to just get away for a weekend, even a day, alone? To think, to listen, to reflect?" I had considered a motel overnight and hesitated, thinking my family would think I was nuts, or depressed. Then I discovered my mother had spent the day at a former monastery, now a place called the Forest of Peace and I became even more intrigued by the idea. Now, reading this book, May's words capture my calling with uncanny similarity to my thoughts and yearning. The end of Chapter One (The Call) May says this about his decision to spend time - alone - at a campground, in the wilderness, over night.
"I suppose you can tell that something is really right when you feel such a sense of interior exuberance, of "Oh,yes. This is it!" I know there is more to spiritual discernment than good feelings, but if the exuberance goes deep enough, it doesn't matter what your rational mind has to say about it. It's like a homecoming, something lost being found, a feeling that makes your insides shimmer with rightness. And if you don't say yes to it, you yourself feel wrong, and a little less alive."
Chapter Two, The Power of Slowing -what May names what he finds there, before he discovers what it is. He says it is a welcoming feeling. It is powerfully reassuring and it holds him. And he decides he is in love. Not knowing with what or with whom, but he is just in love. The power of the slowing, for May, was an immediate, face to face encounter with Divine Presence, and something that He had longed for all his life. May's experiences prior to this encounter he describes as mediated and as a result, unfulfilling.
And my mind slowed here for a while. "Do I feel my encounters in the Presence of God are mediated or immediate? And then, "What would I expect from spending that time alone - if I were able to arrange it?" I am doubtful that my experience would be as profound as May's because as I pondered my own encounters, I believe many times, my experience with the Divine Presence of God have been direct. In my times of prayer, I know it is only me and my Lord - sometimes His presence overwhelms me into light-headedness. In times of brokenness, it has been as if His arms lifted me to hold or to carry me through times that I don't entirely remember walking through. And He has revealed Himself to me, sometimes, almost audibly, as He has revealed His truth. I have been totally satisfied in His Presence.
I still yearn for more.
Next week, chapter 3's title is Night Fear. Check out High Calling Blog's for more insight to The Wisdom of The Wilderness by Gerald May.