I’ve been busy, but I’ve been using my busyness as a barrier to spending time in prayer and meditation. And this, if I’m honest, is why: because I’m scared.
The wonderful theologian Michael Mayne (why have I only discovered him this week?) writes, on prayer, that “in silence we might find disturbing feelings bubbling up from our unconsciousness”. He writes that it’s the silence which we enter which opens us up to feelings we’ve long supressed, or refused to acknowledge, or thought we’d dealt with. Feelings that we’re ashamed of, that might be connected with the darker side of who we are. The emergence of this “shadow side”, he writes, is healthy, and can be a healing process.
I do want healing. I do want health: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. I do want wholeness, and I feel that I’m doing the things I need to do to get there: I’m eating well, not drinking too much, keeping myself safe when I’m not ok; I’m living a life in accordance with my values. But I’m not doing all the things I need to do to get there. I’ve been frantically trying to stop myself from feeling what was done to me. Trying to stop myself from feeling anger, and shame, and above all from feeling hurt and grief, because those feelings are horrible, and prickly, and painful, and if I’m honest with myself I don’t know how to handle them. So I keep busy and I make it hard for myself to do anything – like spend time in prayer and meditation – which gives these feelings an in. I don’t want them anywhere near me.
But that’s not how it works. If I break my leg tomorrow, I’ll spend time immobile in a cast, but then I’ll spend weeks in painful physical therapy, pushing myself, agonisingly stretching and strengthening abused and weakend muscles – and I’ll have no choice if I ever want to walk, and run, and move with the freedom and flexibility I currently enjoy. Not that I’ve ever broken my leg, or am planning on doing so – ever – but I’ve had enough experience of physical therapy to know that it’s painful.
Not as painful, perhaps, as the need to spend time feeling things I’ve long tried to pretend aren’t there. But there isn’t a choice. I feel them now, or I let them continue to cripple me. And my life is worth more than that.
Still, all in all, right now I think I’d rather the physio.