If I could'st empty all thyself of self,/Like to a shell dishabited,/Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,/And say, "This is not dead,"/And fill thee with Himself instead.
Sir Thomas Browne
I just finished reading (or rereading--I can't remember which!) Madeleine L'Engle's A Ring of Endless Light. Yes, I still read children's books. Don't mock. Aside from the fact that I now desperately want to go to the beach and would also like to ride a dolphin, preferably in the wild, I've been given a lot to think about in regard to prayer. In Ring of Endless Light, the protagonist, Vicky, talks with her grandfather, who is dying of leukemia, about prayer and meditation. One of the things that he says to her is that prayer is an exercise where we take what's in our heart and place it in God's mind. And I like that. There's a lot in my heart right now, both good and bad, and it's good to remember that I can sit down with my cosmic Friend and Father and share with Him so intimately.
The other theme L'Engle weaves throughout the book is that of the emptying of self in order to allow oneself to be filled with God's joy. She includes Sir Thomas Browne's poem that goes on to say that too many of us are so full of our own selves that we miss out on the chance to be filled with Something more than ourselves. Vicky comes to understand this in both her poetry and her scientific experiments in non-verbal communication. Once she is able to empty herself of her own emotions, it is then that she's able to truly hear. This struck home to me as a writer because while I've learned to do that when I'm writing, to rid myself of everything but the words, I have yet to learn how to do this in my prayer life. How many times does the Word say for us to just "be still and know" that He is God? It's a simple practice in meditation that can bring a rich reward for our spiritual life.
And so this week I've been challenging myself to place what's in my heart in God's mind and then leave it there so that I can just listen and be with Him. I hope to be able to experience the joy that comes when I glorify God in the way He deserves.