Take nothing with you on the journey …
These words struck me today… Whether we are an artist, a writer or a contemplative… these words call us to embrace a paradox of the spiritual journey. It is often when we are empty that the Spirit becomes most present to us. This may become more evident in times of desolation, times of contemplation, or times of retreat or abstinence.
In preparation for spiritual discernment these words echo within us…to lay down our ways and wait upon the Spirit. Discernment is the heart of all inner seeking. It is only accomplished with preparation through calming the swells of the worldly desires and letting the waves of our discontent abate, that we may then journey to the inner.
In my art practice, I find it is when waiting in deep stillness and seeking in darkness; seemingly arid of the creative spirit, that I can recognize the dawn of inspiration and be prompted in new directions. … I love the word “inspiration”…. being infilled with the Spirit…and the joy which comes with the “inspiration”. It is truly filling when one is inspired.
It is in the unknowing that we come to know. It is in the emptiness that we are filled. But most importantly, I think it is because I knew I was empty or barren, that I also have learnt to discern the Spirit of God within.
As we are preparing for Lent, this message seems to have a particular resonance for the spiritual journey just now. Often Lent is associated with “giving up things”. But I think of it more as laying them down and letting them go so I can make space in my life. Not so much emptiness, but spaciousness. The journey of the Spirit is to declutter in today’s jargon and trust that we will come to embrace the unknown ahead.
“And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff.” Mk 6:8
I ponder and listen to what this word is saying to me and what extra baggage can I jettison, to go forward, knowing from past experiences, I have been given, and will be given all I need.
In all discernment we question what do I really want and what do I need.
In spiritual discernment as a Christian, we ask what is God’s will for me? I let questions come forward and wait on gentle promptings.
Then starts a process of discerning what comes to me, what I hear in my heart …. , remembering I am always a follower; being led I learn to listen and discern what is drawing me closer to my true self.
What today do I need to equip me for the journey?
What do I stand in need of to be more present, loving, true, peaceful …
What do I really need today – to be readied for the encounter with mystery?