Rest and Discernment
Today’s post is by Bonnie Wallace
The call to discernment is a call to deep rest and abiding presence. This type of rest is a source of renewal and openness. As Tilden Edwards explains in Sabbath Time, “Our minds and our prayers need to relax their frequent weekday grasping, striving, judging, fearing. Full rest is full openness. Full openness is God’s image revealed in us.”
This deep and abiding rest is a coming home to the real self, a self that cultivates an interior attentiveness to the real transforming presence of God within and among. This interior attentiveness of the true self must be lived out and made manifest in daily life, and this invites ongoing discernment in making intentional choices and free decisions.
Discernment is to hear well the one word of God, which is one’s own life — a graced transcendence if you will. It is God who opens one’s life to God’s infinite life. Discernment is a gift already given by the Spirit. One simply has to rest to receive it. All else follows.
Full rest opens me to my real self and to the real prayer that happens within me as I direct others. I notice I wait longer and can tolerate silence easier without adding words or unnecessary chatter. And I don’t strive so hard to find answers. I breathe deeper and relax more.
Rest begets openness for me, and openness keeps me honest and vulnerable. When I am resting in God I find myself being a channel of grace and creativity in praying for the rest of my directees. The graced invitation is physically, emotionally and spiritually given. I try to give them plenty of grace just to be as they are with me and before God during our time together. I also try to make the room comfortable and welcoming. When I am rested I have a quieter confidence in the flow of grace as invited by the direction process. Not much is forced. Would to God I could be this rested and open in most moments.
During my first residency at Shalem, when asked what my hope was for my time there, I shared that I wanted a place where I could catch my breath. And I did. One of the most powerful parts of the residency for me was the observance of the Sabbath. I relished the silence and rest. My soul rested, and I opened. And my ongoing prayer and heart’s desire is to be more and more open and know rest at a soul level. Somehow this desire matters as I continue to sit before others in rest and discernment.
This reflection is taken from the Shalem News, Summer 2004.