There are days when I am just “off.” Days when it feels like I read the same passages over and over again without really being able to comprehend what I just read. Days when every move I make during the day feels like it is being made in quicksand. Days when I’m tired and irritable despite having gotten a full night’s rest. Maybe you have those days too?
Oftentimes, days like these cause me to want to shut myself up somewhere until I am once again fit for human consumption. I feel closed off internally and simply want to find a quilt, wrap myself up in it, and hide away with my dog nearby until whatever it is that has left me feeling this way subsides.
For years I have judged myself for feeling this way. I have scolded myself and re-subscribed to the idea that “pulling myself up by my bootstraps” was the only way through. And yet, as hard as I pulled, some days those bootstraps just buckled under the weight of my being.
Recently, during one of these days, from under my metaphorical quilt, I read a bit from Jesuit Paleontologist, Teilhard de Chardin. He spoke of the soul as a wondrous residence–this “hidden part of us that is in union with divinity, and is where our abundant goodness (or God-ness) exists.” Chardin believed it is necessary for us to open the door to our souls inward to find and claim this goodness. Once, when reflecting on his spiritual growth, Chardin observed: “The deeper I descend into myself, the more I find God at the heart of my being.”
Truly, we all don’t have the time (or maybe even the patience) to pause long enough to deep dive into the wondrous, inner residence of our souls. But I do think we have what it takes to move through these “closed off” days in a different way. Perhaps instead of trying to power through or toughening up or shutting down completely, we might try something simple to open us–if not to the deepest part of ourselves–then simply to a place beyond where we currently are.
Joyce Rupp, an author, speaker, member of the religious Order known as the Servites or Servants of Mary, and Des Moines, IA resident, proposes saying “A Prayer for Openness” in order to begin to peel back the corner of the quilt to get our minds, bodies, and souls back in connection with the One who lives and dwells in us. It is not a magic prayer that will change our “off” day into a day in which we’re suddenly and effortlessly fully “on” again. Instead, it is a prayer that helps put us in a posture of openness–gently nudging us beyond our judgments and our hustling–pointing us toward the God who dwells at the heart of our being:
A Prayer for Openness
Remember the Holy One is with you. Bring to mind this loving presence within you and around you as you pray the following:
Practicing openness–even from under “the quilt”–with you,
Rev. Melissa Sternhagen
Rev. Melissa Sternhagen was called as the pastor of St. Paul Congregational UCC in June of 2020. Prior to her call to St. Paul, Pr. Melissa worked as a hospice chaplain in the Ames, IA area, following pastorates at rural churches in Central Iowa and Southern Illinois. Pr. Melissa is a second-career pastor with a background in agribusiness and production & supply operations. She received her M.Div. from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO, and holds a MA Ed. in Adult Education and Training, and a BA in Organizational Communications.