It has been the most incredible winter. I do not remember so much snow; people complained that they were running out of places to pile it. The snow was so high that I could barely see out my window, other than noting the occasional gust of snow blowing off the roof of my house.
At the time I wrote this article, it had been two weeks since I had been outside my door. (Snow and wheelchairs are not a good combination.) There was no point whining about it, that’s just the way things were.
So I settled into a routine of going to bed early at night and rising late in the mornings. I read by the warmth of the fireplace and prayed, or wrote my column and blogs while Belle the family cat purred contentedly on my lap. The aroma of strong coffee brewing in the kitchen drifted throughout the house while the stereo played quietly. We made the best of the situation.
This was not my entire reality — far from it. Amid the quiet, I became aware of his presence. He did not tell me anything: I simply became aware that I was surrounded by divine love. It was so real that I found myself inexplicably weeping because of a sublimity too perfect for words to describe or an imperfect man to comprehend. Sweet joy and an equally inexplicable longing broke my heart.
Such is the thoughtful and profound fruit of quietude that is all but lost with the clamour and hustle of the modern world. (As I was writing this article, not even my computer recognized the word “sublimity” and flagged it as a misspelling.) If I was not stopped in my tracks by disability and bad weather, I suspect I would probably miss such an experience too.
I have come to realize that for my whole life God’s love has been pursuing me even when I was most lost and unreceptive to him. The same is true for others — perhaps even you. (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2567.)
Quietude, resting in prayerful stillness and surrender to God’s divine love is the greatest comfort to the uncertainties of life. (My life has many uncertainties.) I have discovered more meaning to my life in what is quiet and simple than what is loud and complex. This is not unique to me.
There is more purpose to be found to one’s existence in the contented and gentle cooing of a baby than from the learned and clever lectures of a university professor. There is as much wisdom to be gained in sitting reflectively by a bubbling brook as studying a book.
Nature itself declares the glory of God. Jesus said that even the silent stones were ready to declare God’s glory. But are we ready to hear and see God’s revelation declared by His creation?
Only those people who are receptive and open can perceive it. Henry David Thoreau (1817-62) wrote these words: “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars.”
God’s love rests behind creation. People the whole world over desire to love and to be loved, ignorant that the best love is right in front of them for the taking in the person of Jesus Christ.
They can have a relationship with him. To encounter that love is the beginning of understanding and gives meaning to life.
Being alive and being open to life in whatever state or stage we find it is the essence of being fully human. Divine understanding cannot be seized; it is a gift, gained gradually by surrender not conquest. It most often comes in a whisper rather than a shout.
St. Paul wrote, “This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, . . .” We are able to live quiet and contented lives in God’s care. Granted, the world can be cold and stormy but the human heart can be warm and peaceful in the midst of it — resting in Christ’s love.
Tremendous changes are occurring in the world; nature itself seems to be convulsing. Yet if one humbly places his faith in Christ, a sublime peace can be encountered that is beyond human comprehension. Yes, troubled people can experience inner peace knowing God is in control.
Winter winds may rattle the windows of my little house and snowdrifts pile up against the door, but I am content and warm with the knowledge that God loves me.