I just got back from a silent retreat this past weekend. It was so beautiful, and so refreshing and so wonderful I couldn’t help but think of how much I just wanted to blog, blog, blog while I was there and share all these fantastic moments which each of you! As if somehow, by my mere writing here, I could pass on the gifts and sprinkle the seeds of refreshment to all of you who stop by for a read and perhaps, need your inner wellspring tapped up a bit like I did!
It was a silent retreat and there was practically perpetual adoration. God is SO good. One of the nuggets of wisdom a very holy nun shared with all of us was what I wanted to share with you all here.
I think Lent is a good time anyway for me to share something a bit more edifying than usual!
In talking about maintaining peace and discerning what is truly of God and what is not, Sister challenged all of us women,
‘Don’t dialogue with disquieting thoughts’
Disquieting thoughts. It hit me so much, who of us doesn’t get those? Don’t they usually come as your trying to fall asleep? Or when your running late? Or sometimes the minute you wake up? Or when we’re visiting people’s homes? Or getting dressed to go out?
I know I get disquieting thoughts. And I know I often fall so far into the trap of entering into a dialogue with them.
Not talking here about temptations, but rather ‘disquieting thoughts’. Those thoughts that rip away your inner peace, that rip away the love of a Savior from our hearts.
Thoughts like when we replay arguments in our heads, and think of things we could have said better. Or when we hear those questions in our souls, about whether or not feelings we had in prayer were really God’s promptings or if we just made them up ourselves?
What about when we revisit memories of past hurts? Do you ever do that? Do you find yourself getting so entangled in that memory and feel those feelings so closely again that you could cry?
Are we ever offended by people? Are we bothered by what someone said?
I love that phrase because it grabs that process by the throat and says, “I know what you really are“.
And I love Sister’s advice ‘don’t dialogue with them‘ because now we know what to do when we catch those thoughts bubbling up again.
This too, is the essence in progressing in our relationship with Christ. Harnessing those thoughts as a barometer for discernment.
In the Ignatian method of discernment there is a lot of reflecting on your ‘inner barometer’, namely, when you have a thought, or an urge in prayer or maybe in the midst of your day… deep down there inside your inner spirit how do you feel?
Do you feel more peaceful when you ponder the situation or idea? Or do you feel ‘disquieted‘ ?
Essentially, is this bringing you closer to heaven? Or farther away?
Do I feel more at peace from this thought/article/conversation or less?
How is this helping my vocation?
Maybe I’m being super basic here. But this is how basic I need things for my own prayer life. I’ve found these points to be so fruitful and so helpful for everything from what I’m watching, what blogs I am reading, conversations I am having, and even places I go to.
The surest way of discernment, at least for me, seems to be that simple quieting thought of
‘Where is this leading me to?’ ‘Is it aiding my journey at all?” ‘ Is it uplifting to my soul and truly nourishing to my spirit?’
These were all points that were made this weekend to me, and that really drove home what I needed to understand. Our need for nourishment. Good, real, whole, nourishment of our souls.
And disquieting thoughts are anything but nourishing. They only serve to distract us, get us all riled up over frivolity and change our focus point onto ourselves.
Sister Shirely Ann looked right at all of us with a big smile on her face, but a very firm voice and advised each of us to cut it off, whatever it may be that is junk food for your soul. Even if it’s just People magazine, even if it’s just a reality TV show… she practically shouted,
“Don’t enter into that dialogue! Don’t do it! Because guess what? There’s no treading water in the spiritual life. You are either going forward or backwards.”
Which way are we going? What will it take for us to snap out of it?
Let us use the remainder of Lent to encourage one another to stop treading water, whatever it may be… and instead nourish our souls with things that will truly propel us forward in our spiritual journey!