“God is stirring within you, inviting you to experience the flow of inner peace and receive the Creator’s on-going love and guidance in your life,” our retreat leader Charlie said to the group of us gathered for a weekend retreat. “Deep in your heart, you know that is true.”
I closed my eyes and breathed in Charlie’s words. They touched my soul with a healing balm. I listened as he continued to speak.
“You want to live with purpose—to feel connected with your True Self and the Divine so you can experience more joy, passion, energy, and excitement. You want to tap into your inner power. But we live in a fast-paced, always-on world that blocks the flow of Divine Energy, and that leads to stress, depression, and disease. Our culture teaches us to push harder, to follow the flow of other people’s expectations of who we ‘should’ be.”
I opened my eyes and looked at Charlie. He was right. I was stuck, drowning in the whirlpool of a gotta-measure-up world.
“All of this busyness and living up to others’ expectations creates an unhealthy lifestyle. It boxes us in and disconnects us from the ability to obtain our deepest desires. We silently shout, ‘I’m stuck in my head and can’t get out! There’s got to be a better way.’ And there is!”
Charlie then told us the spiritual life is part surrender and part practice—taking time to quiet ourselves, listen, and do the daily inner work to open our hearts so we can connect with God and our Authentic Self.
If we want to get unstuck and grow on the inside, we need to take baby steps—but make them the biggest baby steps we can take.
“I want you to do two things,” Charlie said. “When you go home, I want you to establish a daily meditation practice. Set aside twenty minutes each day to sit in the quiet with yourself and God. Let that quiet time be the foundation of an ever-deepening relationship between you and the Creator. Let it be a safe place where you and God embrace, talk, and listen—a place where you can get instructions on how to live your best life.”
We nodded, knowing Charlie was giving us diamonds we couldn’t hold in our hands but could embrace into our lives.
“You might initially resist this daily practice. It might seem odd to sit and do nothing but listen. Over time, this daily quiet time will become a peaceful refuge, a place of rest and restoration. It will become a lifeline to yourself and the Divine.”
Charlie paused while his words sunk in.
“Next, I want you to find a spiritual director. Seek out someone trained in the art of spiritual mentoring. Meet with that person once a month for an hour so you can discover how God is leading you. Look back over the events of your life, get honest with yourself, and determine how well you’re responding to the Creator’s invitations to grow. Spiritual direction is an ancient practice from the early Christian tradition. We are rediscovering it as a key to living in the Divine Flow.”
I left the retreat twenty-five years ago taking Charlie’s words to heart. He was the angel I needed to show me the path. He offered two simple solutions that have been life-giving for me and so many others.
Life continues to have its ups and downs, but with the practice of daily meditation and monthly spiritual direction, the highs aren’t as high and the lows aren’t as low as they used to be.
I feel like God has become real. God with skin.
He’s not just an intellectual concept but someone I experience—someone I can go to throughout the day to remind me of who I am. Someone who helps me figure out the mystery of my life and gives me the baby steps I need to take so I can continue to grow.
I’m not sure if Charlie is still alive or if he’ll ever read these words. But wherever he is, I thank Charlie and the Creator for teaching me the importance of taking baby steps—the biggest ones we can take—so we can continue to grow on the inside.
—brian j plachta
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