In the hazy stillness of afternoon sunlight, I cannot even observe what year it is. I have walked through double doors, cloistering myself away from the pace of life, the attachment of family, the security of that which I have come to know as home. For a span of time, all I know of home is here. There is newness: the grace of beginnings, the hope of kindled awareness. There is something in my soul where yearning once was, but I haven’t yet learned to speak its name.
I leave my shoes and kneel in the center of the room, perhaps invited but more honestly, compelled.
My book opens, and I hear these words, spoken to me:
I am, you anxious one.
Don’t you sense me, ready to break into being at your touch?
My murmurings surround you like shadowy wings.
Can’t you see me standing before you cloaked in stillness?
Hasn’t my longing ripened in you from the beginning as fruit ripens on a branch?
I am the dream you are dreaming.
When you want to awaken, I am that wanting.
I grow strong in the beauty you behold.
And with the silence of stars I enfold your cities made by time.
–Rainer Maria Rilke, Love Poems to God
I cannot rise.
In my mind, I see myself among the anxious ones who have sat in this circle. Being taught is one thing: history, catechism, liturgy, scripture, prayers. Learning is another thing altogether: listening, quieting, trusting, opening. Those soul lessons have filled this space for longer than I have been breathing, or thinking. Generations of the newly obedient to their inner call. Some fighting it, some relieved, some fearful, some content. All some of all of that, at least some of the time.
Perhaps the young novices of another age wouldn’t have even imagined this middle-aged woman, postulant to the priesthood, kneeling here in the Awe of Presence. How we live out our vocation is a matter of context, history, and social sanction. The mind tells us of limits, and walls, and rules, and order. The world in which we live educates us in that which is allowed, permitted, tolerated. The soul knows nothing of these limits.
I find tears filling my eyes, weeping with gratitude that I am in this context at this time. But, I am them and they are me. We are more alike than different, this communion of the ordinary saints of the sacramental present. We are not in this space from our own merit, nor perhaps even fully by our own choice. We are learning to follow the nameless yearning that resides within and beyond. We are praying, moving, making room for the incarnate to become present in ways that are yet to be known and experienced.
We are not different.
I quiet to stillness.
I welcome the new, like a loving stranger becoming a soul friend.
And I know, kneeling here in my silence just as they knew in theirs:
All will be well.