Very often, our
lives get so busy! Our outer lives are filled with work, carrying out projects,
taking care of family and community needs. Our inner lives are often cluttered
with anxieties, worries, plans for the future. We take little time to stop,
look and listen to ourselves, to God, or to others. We often get caught
up in only doing for others, and neglect the gift to just be with one another.
In this article I reflect on the what, why, how, where and when of creating
the inner space needed to be in touch with God and our deeper selves.
is inner space?
do we create it?
do we create inner space?
can we do it?
do we do it?
what does this article say?
this inner space? It is interior freedom: a letting go of binding negative
realities in order to make room for God and deeper values. It is emptiness:
letting ourselves be emptied, to be poor in spirit. It is the kind of poverty
Jesus experienced in emptying himself and becoming human because of his
great love. Our inner space is a resting place for God and others, a place
where we can be and let ourselves receive God and others. It is God’s home.
As Jesus said, “The Father and I will make our home in you.” What a profound
truth: that God loves us so much as to make God’s home within us.
As Meister Eckhart, a thirteenth century mystic and theologian, humorously
points out: “God is at home in us. It is we who have gone out for
a walk.” Through our interior freedom and emptiness we can come back home
and be the resting place that God invites us to be.
we create this inner space? In order to make room for God’s vibrant presence,
a presence that is rich, alive, simple, quiet, but very full. We empty
our inner space so that we might experience the fullness of God’s life
in Jesus Christ. “I have come that you may have life and have it
to the full.”
We create space within in order to focus our hearts and minds on deeper
values of the heart: being loving, sensitive, and caring. Creating inner
space helps us approach life and others with an uncluttered and loving
heart. We need to be uncluttered in order to really love others. If we
are filled with ourselves and our own concerns, we are not free to love
and care. Having this inner space enables us to be less self-absorbed and
more absorbed in God and others.
we create this inner space?
First, by living in the present moment. In our Western culture,
we tend to live in our heads and in our future plans. We need to leave
our thoughts for a while and notice things more through our sense and bodies.
We need to look at, to listen to, to smell, to taste, and to touch what
we are doing in a given moment. How often do we eat a meal and not really
taste what we eat? How often do we walk along unaware of the beauty around
us because we are lost in our thoughts? Being aware of our bodies and using
our senses helps us to live in the present moment, clarifies our thinking
when we move back into our heads, and empties us to notice God’s presence
in our lives.
Another way to create inner space is through silence. Silence is
the great revelation because it reveals ourselves to ourselves. If we took
five-minute blocks of stillness three or four times a day, we would become
more aware of our concerns and anxieties, and therefore more free. Simple
awareness through silence results in freedom. It is when we are unaware
that we become self-absorbed and lose sight of God and deeper truths.
Pain is another way to create inner space. None of us likes suffering,
but it is a part of our lives. Pain bores a hole deep inside us and enables
us to be more open to God. If we can face our pain and not avoid it, feel
it in its depth, let it empty us, let the sword pierce our hearts, then
we will become freer to receive God.
Surrendering to God is another way to create inner space. Daily
we must turn over to God our compulsions and compulsive thinking. This
conscious letting go of binding attitudes and of our false selves frees
us to feel our feelings and enjoy our true selves. We must also put into
God’s hands each day the positive realities of our lives, realizing that
“All is gift.” In this way we make room to receive these gifts anew,
particularly the gift of God’s presence and love. As Meister Eckhart
poignantly says: “God does not ask anything of you except that you let
yourself go and let God be God in you.”
we create inner space? In all places. Although we need times of solitude,
we do not have to go into the desert to discover our inner space. We can
find and create this space in our marketplace, within our homes, in our
communities. In all relationships. A marvelous way to let intimacy grow
is to sit in silence with another for a while, letting yourself be aware
of the other person and your feelings toward him or her. This quiet presence
with another opens us to share deeper feelings and inner truths, our inner
spaces connect. In the Eastern world, people have a practice called “benevolent
gazing,” in which they silently look at one another for five minutes before
a meeting. This gazing upon the other dissipates defensiveness and frees
individuals to receive the ideas and feelings of the others.
we create inner space? Daily and constantly. Through constant awareness
--- observing what is around us and within us, letting things be without
analyzing obsessively --- we can experience our inner space each day. In
special times of solitude as well as through longer periods of prayer,
taking days of retreat away from the business of our lives, we can acquire
a more focused attentiveness of God and spiritual realities.
sum, when we create inner space, we find God in all things. “The day of
my spiritual awakening was the day I saw and knew all things in God and
God in all things,” says Mechtild of Magdeburg, another thirteenth century
mystic. When we create inner space, we let God shine through us. Mechtild
says again: “God, you are the sun, I am your reflection. When God shines
we must reflect…Each of us is a mirror of eternal contemplation, with a
reflection that is the living Son of God with all his works.” When
we have that emptied inner space we become a mirror of God, a reflection
of God to others, radiating to all what we experience within.