I've known for some time that the best description I can give for my spiritual quest right now is the desire for interior freedom. Below is an excerpt from a book called Fire of Mercy and edited by my husband. As I read it this morning, it resonated so deeply with me and what I know to be true about my spiritual journey. I offer it as a meditation, hoping that it will speak to you of invitation and intimacy.
"Left to our instincts, we will never be anything but pretenders, especially in the realm of religion.
Jesus, for his part, prescribes the way to the heart, which begins with withdrawal from finding approval in the world around us.
And so he says, "Go into your storeroom, lock your door, pray to your Father."
My own feet must come back into my house. My own hand must lock the door. My own heart must pray in secret. Once I have entered this inner chamber, I can go out to find God everywhere, but not before, because in fact the God I encountered deep in my interior silence will show me his presence in the cosmos. Until then I will be seeing only reflections of my own desires and hearing echoes of my own inner noise.
In that way, no one else’s experience of God can be imitated so as to become my own.
The true God abides in hiddenness.
Inside comes before outside, center before periphery, hiddenness before manifestation, since all of the latter are “generated” by the former.
One of God’s truest names is, *“the One who sees in hidden places.” In a way we could say that God only sees in hidden places, that consequently the actions and attitudes of pretenders in public places are not seen by God because they are not real.
Hiddenness is here a crucial criterion for genuineness, for reality, for being in fact. How horrible not to be seen by God, to live in such a way that our lives are mere fleeting ghosts before him! Our vanity and all our chasing the wind are not so much evils as they are insubstantial: to the point of rendering God blind to them.
Hiddenness, solitude, and silence have the effect, so to speak, of gathering up the scattered: atoms of our being and kneading them into an image recognizable in the eyes of God.
The Father has made me a steward over myself, and interiority is the space where I do the work assigned me.
Now, the deepest part of the work assigned me is to seek for the Face of God even as he himself is forever seeking my face, my true-identity.
In actuality, God has already found me, but I cannot find him until I come home into myself.
No other human work can be successful unless it can be traced back to this essential activity that is purely interior: seeking the Face of God so as to abide in its presence with the deepest part of my being.
The call to do this constitutes human identity."
Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew: Vol. 1 by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis
*This is the name Hagar gave to God when she encountered him in the wilderness. The image is of Hagar with her son, Ishmael.