In my last post, I mentioned that I had been re-reading A Quiet Heart by Patricia Holland. It is one of my most favorite spiritually-themed books, and if you haven’t read it, I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
While I have studied Sister Holland’s words, thoughts from the first chapter of her book have become a kind of mission statement of mine this year. There is so much to ponder and reflect on. As there is simply no way I can expound or improve upon her own thoughts, I share her words here:
Isn’t it sometimes discouraging to see just how easily the adversary uses such earthly issues as vanity and worry, envy and pettiness to distract us from our divine mission and the unity we could enjoy in the Church? We all get discouraged and distracted– caught up in the thick of thin things– no matter how good we are. But do we have time, energy, or emotion to waste on what dress to wear or whose living room is the loveliest?
We have real things to think about, things of the kingdom of God. We need to drink more deeply and be filled more fully for the work that lies ahead of us.
Let me suggest some ways that this fullness can come. Often when I face difficulties, I need to turn off the phone, lock the door, kneel in earnest prayer, and then curl up in a chair and meditate, contemplate, search the scriptures, and cry out again and again in my heart, completely focusing my mind on the mind and will and presence of God until I can see a clear picture of Him…
Now, I can just hear you say, “Pat, get real. I don’t have five minutes to do that, let alone an hour or two. I am exhausted now just trying to keep up with things.” I know all about your life, because it is my life, too. I am busy also, and I have been for as long as I can remember… But that has everything to do with the point I wish to make.
I realize that life has to go on and that you will not be able to pursue this heavenly communication in a completely uninterrupted way, but if it is a high priority and a fundamental goal in your life, you will find ways, early or late, to be with God. If the key to your car or your mortgage payment check or a child were lost, would you take time to find them? Wouldn’t finding them provide the peace you needed to then go about your day? If God is lost in your life and you are not going to be strong or stable without him, can you be focused and fixed enough to find him?
…President Gordon B. Hinckley has spoken often of meditation. My husband [Elder Jeffrey R. Holland] has commented on how often, in speaking to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, he has asked that they make sure they take time for thoughtfulness, for pondering, for introspection, for meditation. He often refers to a statement of President David O. McKay: “Meditation is the language of the soul. It is defined as ‘a form of private devotion, or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep, continued reflection on some religious theme” (in Conference Report, April 1946, 113).
Somewhere in our lives there must be time and room for such personal communion. Somewhere in our lives there must be time and room for the celestial realities we say we believe in– or when will millennial peace be ours?
The kind of contemplation, reflection, and yearning for God I am speaking of can’t be accomplished very handily with cellular phones, computers, or a blaring TV. God can enter our realm only at our invitation. He stands at the door and knocks always, but someone has to hear that knock and let him enter. In this effort we ought to do whatever we can to make our houses… the temples, quite literally, that God intends them to be. Places for the Spirit of the Lord to dwell. Places for meditation, contemplation, prayer, and study. Places where good conversation and charity out of a pure heart can be present. Places where we find the fulness of God.
We need to simplify and spiritualize and celestialize. If most of what we are doing doesn’t fit these categories, if at least some part of our day is not turned to heaven, then we have a wrenching, rending emptiness awaiting us… We simply have to see what we can eliminate, what we can replace with something higher and holier, more reflective, compassionate, and eternal. Second only to dedicated temples, our homes are to be the sacred edifices of the Lord, places of peace and holiness and sanctity.
(Holland, Patricia T. A Quiet Heart. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000. Kindle file.)
Food for thought.