Peace

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I come from a Christian (C of E) background, although we weren’t a particularly religious family. Over recent months, I’ve been taking my first real forays in to organised religion, having always been a very spiritual person but having always been repelled, as a child, by the women I’d meet who’d introduce themselves as Christians and then proceed to show me how very zealously un-Christian they were through their actions.

[Obviously I’m not dissing all Christian women (absolutely not!), but the ones I met during my formative years were amongst some of the unkindest women I’ve ever met. Kind of like they were wearing the ‘Christian’ label as a plaster to cover their openly bad behaviours. The suspicion this disjunct instilled in me lasted nearly 30 years, so strongly was I repelled!]

When I began my process of ‘spiritual awakening’ (which is rather a grand way of saying that I realised I needed something bigger than myself to get me through the mess my soon-to-be-ex-husband had left us in), I was attracted to meditation. Because I was seeking, I realise, solace in peace. Because I needed to find some way of finding peace in the chaos. And peace I did find. Endless waves of peace that started to give me hope, because I did (do) see things beyond me, beyond ego, when I meditate. The best way I can describe it is that I see possibility because I feel barriers being lifted.

As I was meditating regularly, I began to be drawn, like a moth to a flame, to seeking God’s words and, in fact, on one of my darkest days, when dark thoughts had invaded even my eternally sunny mind, my body led me to kneel in prayer, at the foot of my bed.

Desperation led my body to lead me there, to kneel. Something I’d never previously done and never expected myself to do. It was a primordial act, my body leading me to give thanks and then, humbly, to ask. I didn’t bargain, didn’t offer anything up if He helped (I respected Him sufficiently).

I simply asked Him to help me get through it because I still have to help my children (goodness, I can’t read that line back as I’m editing, because the tears claw at my throat). A few minutes in to the experience, I felt a light enter the dead centre of my chest, thwack. A physical sensation so strong I still remember the jolt I felt and still feel that light there, anchoring me to faith (in myself, in life, in Him).

A few days later, still a little confused by the experience, I read somewhere that in prayer we speak to God and in meditation we listen to God. They’re some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever read, because they explained, in a nutshell, a great confusion I’d had: how can I meditate and pray to God? “Isn’t that kind of greedy, Helen?, I’d think. 

I find God – my personal version of God – when I meditate. I speak to God when I pray, or when I sit in silence and give thanks. This ‘belts and braces’ approach (as a very devout friend of mine calls it!) has also helped me to find God in daily life because it’s helped me be more mindful of the beauty – and fragility – of life. Of the value of a moment.

And I’ve come to realise that’s where God lives: in moments, in fragments. In those milliseconds when we feel so connected, so loved, so enwrapped (enraptured, in fact): we hold our breath willing them to last longer but they never do. If we want more of those kind of moments, we have to calm down, so we can learn to dive right in to the moment, to be able to fully appreciate every thing we encounter. Once we do this, we’ll find we’ll have more of those moments and we appreciate them much more deeply. Their frequency and depth are both increased.

If prayer is when we speak to God and meditation is when we listen to God, then if we’re mindful (a side effect of daily meditation), we’ll even come to see God. See the miracles. Marvel at the multiple – myriad – beauties of life. It’ll train our eye (and our hearts) to see joy when it’s right there in front of us. No more chasing. No more discontent. You’ll see it all there, right in front of your nose.

Things are always in the last place you think to look, aren’t they?!

[This post was written in response to Karen Beth’s Tuesday at Ten word for this week (peace). My thoughts are with Karen Beth and her family at this most difficult time]

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30 thoughts on “Peace

  1. alexa says:

    That’s a wonderful definition of prayer and meditation, Helen, and am moved by your journey.

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  2. Lizelle says:

    I’m sorry to hear of your encounter with horrid people. I try to remember when it comes to that there are both good and bad people everywhere; not the religion so much as the humans. I suppose it’s one of those ‘guns don’t kill people people kill people’ beliefs. I totally understand the point of view though.

    I also believe in a very unique journey with encountering God, that he speaks to and moves in everyone differently, it’s so important to seek out for ourselves and not let anyone limit our experience by impressing their boundaries on it….

    Maybe I’ve a radical view i dunno haha.

    I’m glad you felt that incredible warmth and comfort of the Holy Spirit ( being Christian myself, how I might describe the experience on your knees hope you don’t find that offensive) what an amazing and wonderful strength it is.

    I hope you get to keep having an amazing experience on your journey towards peace, you deserve it ❤

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  3. Chelsea says:

    I love this , although saddened by your encounters with Christian women- although it’s a fact of life you will find good and the ugly anywhere. I was raised in a Christian home and while I enjoyed it, It never made sense to me, I didn’t really find what I was looking for- which was a relationship built on love- until my husband came back from a trip a few years ago a completely changed man. He taught me what he had learned and all of a sudden, God and the word it all clicked into the most beautiful way for me. It’s been the most wonderful revelation and has brought me much peace. I love the way he reveals himself to each of us in our own way and time that makes sense for our own hearts and minds.

    http://www.hollandsreverie.blogspot.com

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  4. I LOVE THIS. All of it. I’m saving it to re-read because I relate to it so much. I know what you mean about those un-Christian “Christians” and I’m so so glad you’ve found God as an adult.

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  5. Great post! I enjoyed your thoughts on prayer and mediation. I had never put the two together like that. Great observation.

    I have difficulties with church people, too. I have difficulties with church. I also grew up a Christian who went to church every Sunday. Although it wasn’t until the last few years that the church became a place of pain. But it brings to mind: What is the point of church? I am coming to realize in my heart it’s not about me and my feelings. It’s about God. And church is part of obedience. Not that I’m actively going. In fact we are going to start church-hopping in search of a new one because we have never done that as a couple.

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    • iwillbloom says:

      Hi Jessica, thanks for your comment….agree with you about Church…I honestly feel like my Church is my mind, but I also appreciate how Church can be a place of community, and support, for many.

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  6. I get this Helen. I SO get this. I had a more positive childhood with faith…but I know exactly who you mean by “those women”. But what I really get is that complete moment of surrender, on your knees and completely open to Him in a moment of highest need. I had a similar experience, for a different reason that I’m just not ready to share yet. One of these days I may – but my soul sure gets your soul on this one dear Friend. Thanks for sharing. xo

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  7. Barbara says:

    WOW…I just typed a LONG comment – and LOST IT!!! Now…what was I saying????

    I love this post – and how you described prayer and meditation as talking to God in prayer or listening to God in meditation – so true!!

    I too was raised a Christian; both of my parents were Christians and we were in church as a family every Sunday and whatever other days the doors to the church were open (Sunday night service or youth; Wed. night service, choir or Bible study). I don’t recall any particular women calling themselves Christian yet not acting as a Christian – there have been many I’ve met as an adult!

    I do recall one Sunday school teacher; all the kids loved her. We’d meet at her house for a meal, a meeting, a Bible study, or just to hang out. I thought very highly of her, and had placed her “on a pedestal” as if she were PERFECT and did not wrong…we all know there is/was only ONE perfect and that is Jesus Christ himself! Well, when I found out she smoked…oh, my – that teenage girl was sooooo upset and that teacher dropped off that pedestal, in my view.

    Now, I am not saying that smoking was a bad thing for her; it was her choice. My own mother smoked – it wasn’t until many years later that she quit, but it was too late to stop the emphasema (sp?!) or COPD. So, I am definitely not placing judgment – that’s not my place!!

    Anyway…love reading your heart again! Thank you for sharing.

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  8. Jolene says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I love your descriptions of meditation and prayer. I am your Tuesday at 10 neighbor, and I really enjoyed reading your post.

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  9. Angel Jem says:

    Sometimes I worry that Church and/or organised religion sort of misses the point of having a faith and spirituality, which as I see it is a personal relationship with God (whatever deity you chose to call to mind) since so many times we see not-Christ-like or unwelcoming words or actions in other people; but then I think to myself, isn’t that why we get together? To be humans together in God, not to be perfect beings? And I see a point behind the meeting together of people, to worship or work together.
    But I love your description of the relationship between prayer and meditation. I need to meditate more, but it’s so easy to *do* the action (of prayer) and so much harder to *be* the stillness and listen.

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    • iwillbloom says:

      Hia…..I heard somewhere the other day that we are human BEings, not human DOings….but it’s so hard, sometimes, to just be. Despite the fact when we just ‘are’ (without doing), so much self-knowledge and so much wisdom can come to us. It’s the old ‘need it now’ problem, I think, that stops people reaching for that peace: as it doesn’t come instantly, most people don’t try to reach it.

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  10. Gabriele says:

    In my experience I find what you said to be true.

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  11. Zoe Rose says:

    Oh, I love this post. I find it’s much better to focus on my faith, my relationship with God than anything else! (And I’m badly behind on reading your blog! Between trying to be actually present all the time with the little ones, and then work and etsy in the evenings I’m running out of time- catching up now!)

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  12. Inspired by your spiritual journey Helen. Thank you for sharing. Am always curious of people’s faith journey. I can resonate of your poor experience with some Christians. Seems I am more skeptical of them than anyone else. I just love that God isn’t limited by humanity’s attempt to keep Him small. Somehow God comes to us despite all the toxic voices we’ve heard for so long. Want to meditate more. You are “getting through” so bravely Helen!

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    • iwillbloom says:

      Thanks Heather…..you should make time to meditate more…it will bring you so many benefits…..as the Dalai Lama says, you should find 30 minutes for meditation, and if you can’t find 30 minutes, you need to find two hours (love it!)!

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