The Subterranean Sanctuary

(A reflection from my year-long journey with friends through Devotional Classics, edited by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith.) 

“Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul,” Thomas Kelly writes. And as we respond to the Light of Christ, “The secret places of the heart cease to be our noisy workshop. They become a holy sanctuary of adoration and self-oblation, where we are kept in perfect peace if our minds be stayed on Him who has found in us the inward springs of our life.” But as all busy moms know to be true, “The light fades, the will weakens, the humdrum returns.”

Kelly goes on to encapsulate in a few short phrases my vision for this web site: “Let us explore together the secret of deeper devotion, a more subterranean sanctuary of the soul, where the Light Within never fades, but burns, a perpetual flame.”

There is certainly a subterranean sanctuary inside each of us, but so often I scuttle atop the surface…a busy scarab, clicking along, here and there. I’m busy — caught up — on the dusty crust of life.

As a mom I’ve mastered mental multi-tasking: planning a meal, mapping out cleaning tasks (that I rarely get to), thinking about the novel I’m reading, keeping track of my baby’s 3-hour nursing routine, listening to NPR, worrying about the bills, watching my 3 year-old play. Yes, all simultaneously. But these are the anthills on the surface — the preoccupations of the mind that take up a whole lot more of my focus than they really deserve.

It’s to the subterranean sanctuary that I must go — to the depths that I must dive. If I want my living to be really living — really worth anything — I must do some soul spelunking.

This week my goal is a different type of mental multi-tasking: maintaining an inner meditation/prayer through the sometimes humdrum and sometimes chaotic moments of daily life. At the week’s end I’ll check in at the bottom of this post and tell you how it went. 

CHECKING BACK IN: This past week I’ve meditated on a passage that’s convicted me at every moment it has cycled through my mind: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” (Phil 4:5). I chose it for my “subterranean sanctuary” experiment because I’m often struck by how quickly a gentle spirit flies out the window during those frustrating moments of motherhood. So my goal was to stay focused on the first part of the verse — and with the Holy Spirit’s help, to become more gentle. I have no idea if it “worked” as I hoped, but I do know that God surprised me a bit. It was the second part — the coda of the verse — that spoke to me, molded me, prodded me, kept me on my toes. The Lord is near

Not that I’m afraid of Jesus’ presence, but hearing those words in my soul over and over again this week seemed to transform “small” moments and events into big ones. As if Jesus was the passenger in my mini-van, the presence standing near the sliding glass door in the kitchen during breakfast, the shadow seated on the rocking chair in the middle of the night. Each time I felt exasperated, worn-out, frustrated, annoyed, ticked off, tired out, or at the end of a very frazzled rope, the presence of Jesus caught me off guard. He was there…he was near…he was with me both as divine conscience and guide, as patient redeemer and forgiver. And from that sense of conviction (Jesus is watching my response to my son right now!) and that feeling of inspiration (The Lord is beside me, loving me right now!) came expressions of gentleness. Not all the time. Not enough of the time. But gentleness nonetheless.

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One response to “The Subterranean Sanctuary

  1. here’s to soul-spelunking… 🙂 love your site, Kel!

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