One of the things I have learnt from my spiritual director is to try to incorporate some silence whenever I pray. By which I mean inner as well outer silence (which is much harder!). I sometimes feel like Chidi from The Good Place, who says his mind is like a waste disposal unit with a fork in it, constantly grinding and grinding away. Other times I feel like Dumbledore, who needed to syphon his thoughts off into a Pensieve. I don’t really know if everyone feels like their head is “full”, or if I’m just a bit odd, but my guess would be that most of us from time to time feel like this?
Anyway, as I was trying to still my mind recently, the image of a snow globe came to me – you know one of those globes with a house (or whatever) inside, and the globe is filled with water and glitter. When you turn the globe upside down, the glitter all swirls up and spins and eddies, completely obscuring the scene inside. However, if you then put the globe down, the snow starts to settle, and slowly the water clears, until eventually everything is still, and you can see the house again – indeed, you can see all the way through the globe.
It struck me that being silent in prayer is a bit like this. At first my mind is a complete flurry, with thoughts spinning and whirling. I must remember this. How am I going to solve that? Did I send a card to them? When’s our anniversay? Have I packed the swimming kit? And so on. Sometimes the drifts are deeper – where is life going? What does the future hold? Am I bringing up my children well?
But then, as I just sit, in silence, allowing these thoughts to fly around, they do begin to settle. It’s not a process that can be hurried. Sometimes I use the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy in me a sinner”). Sometimes I just wait and allow the blizzard to rage in my head.
Either way, eventually the snow does settle. The thoughts stop flying round quite so violently. I can begin to see a bit more clearly. I can begin to think a bit more clearly. I can begin to hear God’s voice a little more easily.