Joann Nesser

Resources for the Spiritual Journey

Waiting

Isaiah 64:4

From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived,

no eye has seen any God besides you,

who works for those who wait for him.

Hosea 12: 6

But as for you, return to your God,

hold fast to love and justice,

and wait continually for your God.

   In a consumer driven culture, we are so accustomed to instant gratification that I don’t know if we really know how to wait. We fall into the cultural trap of instant everything. Instant messaging, instant mail, instant photos, instant pudding, instant meals, you name it. We can talk on the phone at any given moment, no need to wait to get back to the office or home. Without learning to wait our spiritual life will remain shallow. In order to grow into the deep things of God we must become people who can wait.


Much of our life is a time of waiting. We are often in between the events of our lives. We experience the emptiness, the nothingness of nothing happening, or what John of the Cross calls “nada, nada, nada, nothing, nothing, nothing…….

One example is the Advent Story. In the story Mary waited through the long pregnancy and in the darkness of Winter for the birth of Jesus. The Christ child was born at night in a cave. The spiritual significance of this image is huge.


Much of our spiritual journey takes place in the dark. Most often it is it is when we are in the deepest of our struggles and when we don’t know what is going on; that God is working secretly in the deep places of our hearts. Usually we fight against this. We try to make something happen. We run from place to place, person to person, to get answers. We try everything to get a quick fix. If we wait, we may not understand at the time but, later we become conscious of the fruit of the dark time. We have come to new birth in the darkness.


If we want to enter into the deep things of God we must be willing to enter this darkness of waiting………..what the ancients called the “cloud of unknowing” leaving behind our preconceived ideas, our good plans, or assumptions under the “cloud of forgetting”

…………..to be in the Dark Night of the Soul. We must enter the cave of our heart and wait.


We must be willing to wait, in whatever darkness we are in,

the time when nothing is happening

the time when we don’t understand what is going on

a time of sickness and suffering

a time of death of a loved one

a time of empty and dry prayer

a time of loss

a time when we don’t understand where God is taking us or why

We must wait in vulnerability, in emptiness, being content to wait in the dark for the birthing of a new and deeper place with God, to the birthing of a new way of being in the world, a new understanding of our vocation, call to service, career, life……………


We all have our times of darkness. In fact, all of life is really a time of darkness to our limited comprehension as far as our spiritual life in concerned. We never fully understand who God is or what God is inviting us to become. The sooner we surrender to that, the sooner we come to peace within ourselves, and often peace with others. When we come to the place where we can live in the moment and not be grasping for what is to come, or what we think we need to know, or be about, or whatever. That is the sacred moment.


Life is a dark night. We can only know God through this darkness of unknowing. We can only know God through our willingness to wait.

Mary waited in the darkness of Winter……..for the coming of the Christ child.

What are you waiting for?

Sit with this question for a moment……………….

Isaiah 64:4 From ages past no one has heard, nor ear has perceived, no eye has seen

any God besides you, who works for those who wait.

On Prayer


Dissecting prayer, in my view, always takes something away from what prayer is really all about. St. Paul speaks somewhere about being apprehended by God. It seems that all our efforts and discussions about the spiritual life fade in importance when somehow we are touched by God's incredible, unabashed, unrestrained Love in Christ. Our spiritual practices simply put us in a position where God is able to "kiss us with the kisses of his mouth" as it says in Song of Solomon. We are apprehended! We have seen God! We have tasted Eternal Life. From there on there is no turning back. When we fall in love we can't help ourselves. We want to be with the beloved. We can't stop thinking of the beloved. Our prayer becomes mute in the wonder of God's healing, transforming love. When this happens then prayer isn’t something we are obligated to do but communication we desire, in fact, can’t live without.

This is what makes prayer the core of our relationship with God. It is right at the heart of the spiritual journey. Prayer is not just one of many spiritual practices. Through prayer the spiritual journey becomes one of ongoing discovery and deepening love of God, ourselves and others. Pay attention to how your heart is drawing you to prayer and dare to follow you heart as one who has fallen in love. We can say with Paul, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what has been prepared for those who love God, these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God."

Think about prayer as the communication you have with the one who has created you in love, the very Ground of your being, who wants to heal and renew you so that you can enjoy being fully your best and truest self and the very image of Christ in the world. With this thought in mind it is easier to think of prayer as about what God is doing and not so much what you are doing. God knows our deepest desires, what we need and what our loved one need. We can hold them in our hearts and ask God to touch them with whatever they need. But God isn't a sugar daddy in the sky who is there to give us treats or a servant who is at our beck and call.

Acts 17:28 tells us that in God we live and move and have our being. We are like fish in a sea. We are the fish. God is the sea. All we need to do is pay attention. God is already in and around us all the time. So prayer becomes simply turning to God who dwells within and learning to listen and discern God's invitations. Of course, if you are inspired to pray for a certain situation by all means do it.

Your Cell Will Teach You Everything


I am alone and undisturbed.

It is quiet in the house.

An old monk said

go into your cell,

your cell will teach you

everything.

Today my bedroom

is my cell.

Here I can think

and pray.

Here I can struggle

with all my doubts

and questions.

This I know,

if I don’t have time alone with You

I have no faith.

How can it be

someone who has been

so passionate for God

as I have been,

someone who has inspired others,

can be so filled with doubt?

When my faith was based on beliefs,

on what I knew with my mind,

dependent on the preaching

and teaching of others

I had loads of what

I thought was faith.

Now all intellectual concepts

of God

are shattered,

gone.

All I have is

the experience of You,

the indwelling Presence.

The old monk said

Go into your cell

Your cell will teach you

everything.

If I don’t create a space

For my own cell work

I am lost.

I need to be alone

with You.

Jesus said

“The Spirit will teach you

everything.”

Jesus, the great metaphor,

the radical counter culture man

who taught us that God’s Spirit

lives

in us all,

that we are all children of God,

that happiness lies

in the opposite

of the obvious,

that the kingdom of God

isn’t wealth and power

but inner peace

and happiness.

Dark Faith


Dark faith is hard to live by

There is nothing to hang on to

No firm absolutes

Telling me what to believe

And how to act

What to read or not

Who to hang around with

Where to go.

Deep down inside

There is a kind of

Knowing

A sense of

Something

That feeds my inner being

With love

And joy

And peace

That draws me onward

Stirring my heart

To seek to know this

One who gives life

To every living thing

But the darkness

Gets darker

The words get more

Vague and abstract

There is not teacher

There is no doctrine

There is no one

Who can make this journey

For me

I have to find

My own light

To guide the way

I have to trust that

You will guide me

And that I won’t

Get lost.

You


You are Real

You are the One

You are the Air I breathe

You are the Sea in which I swim

You are Beyond

What my eyes can see

You are the Inspiration

behind the Music I hear

You are the Essence

beyond the thought

that forms the words

I long to write

my stumbling effort

to describe the indescribable

my breath,

my longing.

Grace.