Something in each of us is drawn to the transcendent, to experiences that transport us, even for a moment, from the ordinariness of life. We find ourselves strangely affected at random times—a waterfall takes our breath away or majestic worship moves us; the beauty of birdsong beckons or the wind in the trees seems to whisper our name; we tear up at a mother caressing her newborn or feel inexplicably calm as the sun sets on the horizon; a well-worn liturgy heals our wounds, or a holy hush engulfs us as we pray. Like quenching a thirst we didn’t realize we had, these things both satisfy us and make us long for more.
Ancient Celtic Christians used to call these thin places, a metaphor that described their sense of heaven touching earth, of God breaking through the thickness of our daily lives to make himself known. While they identified specific locations where they felt this was more common, they also believed that thin places were all around, if only we had eyes to see.
As a young woman, I was captivated by the notion of God breaking in. I read mystics of old who heard God speak, who caught glimpses of his glory and knew how to bask in his love. I wanted what they had. I was moved by words like those of David, who longed for God “as the deer pants for streams of water” (Psalm 42:1) or Isaiah, who cried out, “My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you” (Isaiah 26:9). I, too, yearned for this God, but my world was thick—not only with the distractions of life as a wife, mom, and teacher but also with misguided religious zeal that kept me from grasping what was closer to me than the air I breathed.
Knowing about God
With diligence, I pursued the disciplines that I thought would make the difference. I read the Bible, prayed, was active in church and committed to a life of obedience. But often at the end of the day, I looked back with an emptiness borne of failure to hear God’s voice or see his hand. It was as if I lived in a spiritual world of gray; yet knew that vivid hues of living color were just beyond my grasp. The more I knew about God, the more I wanted to know him, to experience his presence in the dailiness of life.
This was the impetus behind my immersion into the inner prayer journey, and I’ve never been the same.
Have you experienced this internal tug on your heart? Does something within want to “be taken into the arms of a God who will never forsake us from his embrace”?[i] To find some way of “resting in him whom we have found, who loves us, who is near to us, who comes to draw us to himself”?[ii]
After decades of walking with Jesus, I am still in awe at this pilgrimage in his presence. I continue to be both baffled and enthralled by the reality that he wants me, far more than I have ever wanted him. He longs for you too. In fact, he jealously yearns for your company (James 4:5). He wants you to see, know, taste, and experience him in ways beyond your imagination. He stands ready to reveal himself, enfold you in love, speak to you with power, and transform you with grace. He has waited for you—for this moment. Will you come along?
You’ve been reading from Tricia McCary Rhodes’ book The Soul at Rest: A 40 Day Journey into a Life of Prayer. Learn to hear God speak and grow a deeper and more intimate relationship with him. Get the book or read chapter one here for free.
[i] Eddie Ensley, Prayer that Heals our Emotions (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 5.
[ii] Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer (New York: Image, 2014), 4.