Sunday, November 27, 2005

Faithfulness Through a Drop in Spiritual Intensity

Though I have had recently a very intense experience with the Spirit, I am finding that in recent days the intensity of my experience has dropped significantly. Intuitively, it seems it would be difficult to understand this drop in intensity; am I less spiritually focused? Am I being less faithful? These are tough questions. However, I find I am learning how I can be faithful even when my experience is less intense.

Some days, the Spirit has me by the hand (or rather, by the heart) and is guiding me as I try to follow as faithfully as I can. Other days it is more like the Spirit is piggybacking on me; with me, close, but not in the forefront, providing nudgings or pointing every now and then, letting me go more on my own (but not alone!). This, too, requires much faith, as it is easy to feel afraid that I have lost touch or focus, when really the Spirit is right here with me providing guidance, even if not right infront of me. This reminds me of another example Lloyd Lee Wilson gave:

My favorite example of this comes from a gathering of ministers in Ohio that I atended about a decade ago. In the course of the various discussions, some farmers in the group began to describe their practice of settling into the silence each morning, to be guided about what they should do and where they should go that day. Sometimes they felt no more than an affirmation of the tasks human reason would have recommended, but sometimes they received unexpected direction. (emphasis mine)

Living faithfully according to where one is lead every moment of the day does not necessarily mean that one feels a distinct leading on each and every option and decision that comes up. Sometimes human reason (though secondary) is quite appropriate and good. What is important is that one is attentive and open to the leadings that do arise.

I am learning to be in constant conversation with God, checking in inwardly frequently. I find that my experience of this conversation is not quite that of an exchange of words. In fact, a few weeks ago I was speaking with a friend about my experience of worship as listening, and she said something along the lines of how listening is really a difficult thing to do, that she tends to talk a lot more [to God]. I then realized that I really don't do a lot of "talking to God". I don't really ask much, and my experience of prayer is that of a listening and an attentiveness. Perhaps, though, a little bit of talking may not be such a bad idea. We shall see, we shall see.

Love and Light,


Blogger Aj Schwanz said...

I'm with you there, Claire: it seems like I have an intense spiritual experience and then . . . .nothing. I recently heard someone explain this as God's pattern of manifestation and hiddenness. Elijah had the same thing: he made the priests of Baal look like asses and then God made his completely drenched offering burst into flames and be totally incinerated. You'd think he'd be on top of the world, but the next story has Elijah running away to the desert, crying out that he was alone and couldn't feel God. It seems like we learn more about God and ourselves when He's hidden: when He's present, we're so absorbed by the experience that we're not really seeking or learning. I don't know if that makes any sense - I'm still really feeling this whole thing out. Blessings to you as you continue to journey: hope you're having fun. :)

29/11/05 4:17 PM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

I recently went through a dry spell myself. I didn't feel God, I felt like I didn't know God, and even when I opened myself to God, I felt like I had been orphaned.

One of the things that got me through was reminding myself that sometimes in order for me to remember God, I have to go through the desert and rely on my faith so that I can be returned to God. I don't know if this makes sense...

Over time, looking back, I have found that my closeness to God in-between my times in the desert have been richer and fuller... Hard to put into words...

And yes, sometimes the only nudge that God gives me is that there is no nudge to stop what I am doing; just keep on keeping on.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

1/12/05 6:00 PM  
Blogger Zach A said...

Living faithfully ... does not necessarily mean that one feels a distinct leading on each and every option and decision that comes up. Sometimes human reason (though secondary) is quite appropriate and good. What is important is that one is attentive and open to the leadings that do arise.

Yes, well said. I think what it perhaps comes down to is that we are meant to live lives (think thoughts, do deeds, say things) that are true, and our everyday reason and emotions are hopefully up to the task a lot of the time. But it is those times that our everyday mind is leading us away from truth, from what-is, that we need a leading to bring us back.

1/12/05 10:48 PM  
Blogger Kuan Gung said...

The way is focused...until it becomes natural. The mind is a funny thing ...

4/12/05 1:55 AM  
Blogger sehen said...

What we are looking for and what we may be listening to and what may be described as G_d is always there. And it is not hiding. Yes, maybe it can become natural to be in the presence, as kuan says. Martin Buber's experience is not so and he has a very good way to explain it to me.
I have come up with a primitive calculation as a way to explain it to myself: if we all keep talking at, praying to, asking from G_d - just imagine around 7 billion people doing that and probably sometimes at least 200 million simultaneously, not counting the plants and animals who might be involved in the same thing (if they were like us, which they are not) - even if there is a broad band upload channel - does it make sense if G_d were to listen to all this ? Even though my little fabricated idea of G_d is not so personalised usually, it helps me to think of God saying: oh, please, wait a minute children, could you please just listen for a moment. And then he could come through with a little message to all of us. This image makes it clear he can't do that very often. Instead he is engaged in a continuous conversation with creation and if we listen, the message will be for us as well.
Communication is a paradox. And our talking is mostly grooming (Robin Dunbar). I think communication (=sharing) always begins with listening. You cannot possibly say anything meaningful, if you have not first listened. That in itself is not even a paradox, because we are not alone and we are not the first on this planet.

4/12/05 4:07 AM  

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