Tuesday, February 14, 2006


yesterday i couldn't go to meeting because it snowed here (a lot!) and i didn't have a car because my husband was gone for the weekend. so instead i decided i'd spend some time centering on my own. i try to spend at least a few minutes a day centering in silence anyway, but figured i'd do a little longer than my usual time, if not the whole quaker hour.

it was interesting leading up to this time--i slept in, which was nice, then got up and decided i needed to eat first, because i'd eat before going to meeting anyway...then i decided i needed to do some housework or i wouldn't get it done...and i found all sorts of things to distract myself that otherwise i wouldn't have been interested in doing. i think it's funny how the things i talk about liking the most are the things that i often find hardest to do. (i like academics, but to actually sit down and do homework isn't my favorite thing. i like to learn to communicate better, i like to write, i like to exercise...the list goes on--but most of them are hard for me to actually just do.)

anyway, i eventually realized what i was doing and decided it was now or never. so i sat down on the futon with a blanket, lit some candles, and worked on centering. still it's so easy to get distracted! my cat, charlotte, wanted to cuddle but she kept moving around. people in our apartment building had music on, were talking in the halls, stamping their feet as they came in to get the snow off, etc. my mind wandered and i thought about what i needed to do later in the afternoon.

and then for a while there was nothing, really. the music faded, i didn't hear anyone talking, charlotte sat a little ways away, and i remember nothing from that time. after a while (i don't know how long because i didn't check the clock at the beginning) i came back to awareness. i felt calmer and more peaceful, centered (as quakers like to say). nothing special happened during that time, no flashes of insight, no new depth of emotion or anything, but a definite sense that whatever had happened in that time had happened with God, at a level i can't even sense.

maybe i avoid this kind of thing because it could be kind of scary. what's going on when i'm not aware of myself? am i asleep? am i in a trance? who's in control? and yet, in good spaces like that there's a deep sense of trust--i don't have to worry, it's a good place to be even though i don't understand and can't explain it.

my theology teacher said the other day that when people go into a space of "nothingness" it's the hebrew "tohu-va-vohu," the emptiness and void of genesis 1, the chaos out of which God created the universe. he thinks the space of nothingness is the absence of God.

perhaps he's correct. maybe there's a "nothing" that really is nothing. but maybe there's also a space where i can't understand, where i can't sense with any of my five senses what's going on, where it seems like nothing, but really it's an opening into the vast peace that passes understanding which is what we can only indefinitely term "God."


Paul said...


I find your following comment interesting.

"after a while (i don't know how long because i didn't check the clock at the beginning) i came back to awareness."

In the awareness you returned to there was resistance, distractions, etc. I guess I wonder where you were really experiencing "awareness."


cherice said...


Very true..."awareness" is a funny thing. I think we can be spiritually aware while we're going through our day even though there are also distractions, but yes, it's a different level of true awareness when we're not really aware in a controlled sort of way. It's hard to explain, because I don't think just "lack of bodily awareness" is always a good thing, but there is a space where my mind is peacefully not in control, not trying to attend to my environment, not trying to make any sort of "spiritual" thing happen, just being. And this is an awareness perhaps of more depth than what we generally call awareness.