Prayer is a Mystery that no words can explain. Sitting in our small Blessed Sacrament chapel here at St. Scholastica Monastery late at night, after a rather long dry spell in my prayer, I suddenly felt enfolded in love. I became aware of Divine Presence. The Ground of our Being, Source of all Life, the Holy Mystery we call God was encircling me.
Those of you who have attended my retreats probably recall me suggesting that words are the least important part of prayer. I still believe that. God doesn’t need our words. It is our love that moves the heart of God. When you are in the presence of mystery how can you speak? Why would you write? In the presence of mystery you fall silent. We are always in the presence of mystery of course, yet we are not always awake to the mystery. We do not always have a felt sense of that mystery and that is understandable. There are moments, however, when veils fall away and the Divine is almost tangible. Those are moments for falling into silence.
And now that I have spoken in favor of silence I’d like to speak in favor of words. It was a few words from Psalm 138:3 that ushered me out of my Desert Time. Praying the Divine Office with my Sisters in Community I was anointed by these words: “as soon as I call you act, renewing my strength…” When our common prayer was over I sat in silence with these words using them as a mantra. Curious as to how other translations might voice these words I did a little research.
On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased the strength of my soul. (NRSV)
You heard me on the day when i called, AND you gave new strength to my heart. (NJB)
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me. (NAB)
These evocative words are about one’s strength being renewed in a time of trouble. And so I called. I used words to describe what I was experiencing. I asked for help, for restoration and renewal. I listened to God listening to me. I waited with trust and hope. I became silent again. Learn to be still.