Fade to black, or at least a muted gray

January 6, 2010 | prayer

Well, well, well. Almost a whole week has gone by since I last posted here. Was it because I was busy with Christmas visits and celebrations and lots of family time? Absolutely, yes. But my absence here is about more than that, I’m realizing. There were a couple of times when I sat down to post but backed away at the last minute. I reflected on all this and tried to put my finger on what was keeping me from this blog. What I’m finding is that lately I want to fly under the radar of life. Not in a depressing way, but in a less-is-more kind of way.

As with so many other strange phenomena in my life in recent years, I think this more muted version of myself has something to do with my spiritual journey. Where I used to want to talk non-stop (and often did, as many of you can probably attest), I have less of a need for chatter these days. Where once I may have thrown myself out there in an effort to make people laugh, or at least make people like me, I now find myself pulling back, fading — or perhaps, “blending” is a better word — into the background of life. I even deactivated my Facebook account for about five days recently and simply stopped reading other blogs (except for OSV Daily Take, which is part of my job so I have to show up there).

I felt like I needed time away from the high-tech frenzy. Then I realized that I couldn’t get in touch with some people without social networking. Oh, the tangled worldwide web we weave. So…I had to reactivate my Facebook account yesterday, and now here I am today. Connection? Not sure yet, but certainly being back in touch with my Facebook community makes the drive to blog again seem more urgent.

Where is all this leading? Well, as a writer who has to try to drum up publicity for books and other projects, it’s kind of impossible — or crazy — to just disappear from the social networking and blogging world. Although I really don’t like self-promotion, I recognize that the people who succeed in this very difficult world of book publishing are the ones who are willing to get out there again and again and again and remind us of what they’re doing and how to climb on board. So there’s that. But more than good public relations, being in touch with folks through Facebook and this blog has really been a tremendously positive thing for me in general.

As with so many aspects of our lives, I think the key is balance, learning to set our own pace and to avoid the temptation to get caught up in someone else’s version of what life should look like. We don’t have to do everything at lightening speed, in blazing color, at top volume. We can live our lives very happily and serenely doing just the opposite, in fact. Slowing down gives us more time to breathe and appreciate the world around us. Muted colors like grays and browns and dark blues can be even more beautiful than flashy colors that typically grab the spotlight in the color palette. Whispers can often get our attention more quickly and more powerfully than shouts.

I found, as I often do, that Thomas Merton has food for thought on this topic:

“When I am liberated by silence, when I am no longer involved in the measurement of life, but in the living of it, I can discover a form of prayer in which there is effectively, no distraction. My whole life becomes a prayer. My whole silence is full of prayer…Let me seek then the gift of silence, and poverty, and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into prayer: where the sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is all in all.” — Thoughts in Solitude, Thomas Merton



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