When prayer is stale and seems rote and weak, uncharged with that cosmic-mystical quality that is beyond our power to bring forth ... what's a soul to do?
Not too long ago, I found myself stuck with the "silence." It was frightening. But I found a way to hear the voice again.
This way does not mirror the typical ways taught in catechism training or Sunday school. I couldn't break the silence by going to Mass, reading scripture, taking long nature walks, sitting silent by the ocean, praying with other people, or practicing devotions (novenas). None of these brought back that communion with the Divine Presence I had known all my life; that same communion that was always accessible and allowed me to hear the voice, the message, the "touch" from the Other side; that communion that I could not create or summon - but had always been there.
Coming from a large Catholic family, with icons in every room and statues on bureaus, shelves and window sills complimented by 12 years of Catholic school - God was ever present in my life ... God was a way of life. The concept of a silent God was foreign to me.
Actually, for most of my life - God was loud!
God was in every place, in every human, in music, in poetry, in art, in pain, in joy, in the past, in the present. God waited to be spoken to, prayed to, worshiped. And we his (or her) faithful followers did what we were told - according to what was written in the Gospels. God's voice told us what to do. "Love your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself."
Then, unexpectedly, God went silent.
The Gospels never said what to do when you stopped feeling the presence .. or hearing the voice. When art, people, nature and music no longer moved you deeper into the Divine Presence, how do you find him again?
Move to a thin place.
A thin place is a place on earth where the veil between this physical world we experience with our five senses and the eternal world is "thin." The eternal world is more near.These thin places are not made thin by you or me - or anyone else. They are inherently thin, which is a mystery. There is a cosmic, mystical quality to the place itself that transcends the senses. The physical world and the Otherworld (the world of Divine Presence) are knitted together.
Ireland is full of these thin places. They have been marked for centuries by inhabitants of many faiths and religious practices. Their "thinness" is unexplainable, but if you are lucky enough to visit one of these many sites or find one close to home - and on your journey to the thin place you carry your hunger, yearnings and questions to God in hopes of an encounter- you will be changed.
I can always hear His voice in a thin place.
Though I cannot visit Ireland easily as I live 3000 away, I can always visit in my mind. I visualize the spot, and imagine the feel of the ground, the sound of the wind, the reflection of the sunlight - or moonlight, the ripples on the water, or the smell of the bog. I try in my imagination to use all five senses - then I wait in stillness. The human spirit can transcend the boundaries of the body. Imagination is the vehicle.
God's silence is broken. He always speaks to me in thin places.