When I finally, finally learned to be in the moment and rest with my feelings, it was painfully obvious how much of life I’d missed out on. The highly emotional girl that once cried at the drop of the hat and was often overwhelmed with empathy, had been smothered by a young woman who’d decided that strong emotions were no longer safe or tolerable.
For years, I suppressed any emotion that I couldn’t describe as “happy” which meant a lack of connection to the people and circumstances with which God had surrounded me. I couldn’t let the sweetness, vulnerability, and raw beauty of life in. Couldn’t appreciate the many, many blessings that were completely a gift from God.
As the months have unfolded these past couple years, I have come to savor that feeling of awe, wonder, and gratefulness for life. The fact that my little life has been blessed and orchestrated by God to interact with the particular places and people that surround me, it’s so humbling. I love taking the time to really listen to my kids stories, visit with a neighbor, share my day with Dennis, gaze at the sunset, pet our little dog Claira, while thanking God for it all.
There’s a poignancy in these moments that I couldn’t quite describe with words, until I read Forgotten Among the Lilies. Rolheiser says:
“What constitutes a tender moment? Anything in life that helps make us aware of our deep connectedness with each other, our common struggle, our common wound, our common sin, and our common need for help: the suffering face of another which mirrors our own pain, the sense of our physical mortality, the acceptance of our own sin, the beauty of nature, the eagerness and innocence of children, the fragility of the aged, and, of course, not least, moments of intimacy, of friendship, of celebration, of every kind of shared joy, pain, or vulnerability.”
Yes, that’s the type of moment I’d come to appreciate and crave when I regained peace with my innermost feelings.
These tender moments, according to Rolheiser, are the essence of prayer – “To have a tender moment is to pray,” he states. He further explains that we’re told to “pray always” which “implies that we need to be praying even when we are not formally saying prayers.” This brings to mind the idea of resting in prayer. Being in a state of prayerful thanksgiving, even when our minds are resting in God and refraining from forming words or trying to figure everything out.
I love the way Rolheiser describes this condition: “To pray always, as Jesus says, implies that we read the signs of the times, that we look at the conspiracy of accidents which shape our lives and read in these the finger and providence of God. The language of God is the experience that God writes into our lives. To pray means to read our lives religiously.”
The conspiracy of accidents! Such a perfect phrase for the wildness of life. What peace and hope lie in the fact that God is providentially guiding our lives through all the accidents of circumstance.
Resting in prayer and the stillness of God creates so many beautiful moments of tenderness. To stay present with the Lord, Rolheiser declares, “We need, daily, to pick up the tender moment.”