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  • Writer's pictureJ. Randall Ory

34 - The Practice of Stillness - Part 8: Discernment

In case you haven’t notice, I’m spending a lot of time talking about Stillness. There’s a reason. Stillness is one of the major concepts of Contemplation. You could call it the one over-arching indicator of the spiritual life. That’s why I’m not rushing out of this topic into any others. I’m wanting to spend some time here, exploring this one idea from many different angles. It’s a big concept with many different facets, and I don’t want you to miss the value that stillness has. I hope it’s not getting boring for you, or old. But if it is, take heart, because discernment is kind of the big conclusion to this big idea. When we are truly operating properly from this place of stillness, discernment is the end result. Discernment is a big concept in spiritual practice that has to do with our ability to hear, see, and sense God’s presence in our everyday moments. I’ve had thousands of experiences in discernment, some big and some small. Discernment is a very personal and intimate experience. It entails just knowing that we’ve experienced God’s voice, direction, comfort, and presence in ways that words can hardly describe. I think most of my discernment experiences would likely sound fantastical, even foolish, because they only mean what they mean because of how God has been experienced through them. We often think of experiencing God only in grand ways, like Moses parting the Red Sea, Jesus calming a storm, or Paul raising someone from the dead. We often don’t think of God showing up in the small moments of life, but discernment includes both. There are those times when God comes through in a big way, in a moment of crisis or desperation, when we really need a big answer or a remedy to a big problem. But those are few and far between, and for good reason. We really don’t want to always be in the middle of some great crisis, desperate and ready to drown. If that is our common, every day experience, then something is terribly wrong with our lives. Most of the time, we’re just experiencing the calm, boring, every day moments of life. Thankfully, God shows up there too. That means that discernment entails, not just the big moments where God shows up and saves the day, but God showing up in the small moments too. That’s why discernment is more about learning to hear God in those small moments, because it is those moments which make up most of our lives. A God present and active in our every day life must be discernable in that every day life, as much as in life’s crisis. The problem is that we often don’t think too much about our need for God when things are going well, and nothing major seems to be pushing us towards the need for someone bigger than ourselves to step in and save the day. The problem is also that, if we haven’t learned how to discern God’s present when things are calm, then we won’t likely be able to discern God’s present when everything is turning upside down. In those moments of crisis, it’s much harder to hear anything at all. When the storms of life are raging, when nothing makes sense and we’re struggling to stay calm, that’s when it’s the most difficult to hear God, and the least advantageous time to learn. If we can’t learn to hear God when life is quiet, we won’t likely hear God when life gets loud. We need to learn how to hear God first in our every day, normal days, if we expect to hear God when we need too the most. That’s why the first lesson of discernment is learning to listen in the quiet.

Learning to hear God in the everyday, mundane moments of life isn’t easy either, mostly because we tend to go through life on auto-pilot, when everything is going well. We tend to just stick to the mindless routine. But if I’ve learning anything, mindless routine is the enemy of living life with God. God is always breaking through the routine of our default settings and waking us up to the special invitation of every moment lived in communion with him/her. It’s what mystics often call “Kyros” verses “Chronos” time. The Greek word “Kyros” literally means “a special moment with God”, while “Chronos” indicates the mundane passing of time, like the ticking of a clock. We get the word chronological from the Greek word “Chronos.” We have too much experience in “Chronos” time, and not enough in “Kyros” time. “Chronos” time can render our lives meaningless, just like watching a ticking clock. “Kyros” elevates us to the specialness of a God who shows up in our every day moments just to let us know that we matter, and that we are loved. The discernment of “Kyros” time not only helps us learn how to see, hear, and know God in the mundane moments, it elevates us in those moments to a place where we know we are living the life we were meant for. There is nothing more life-affirming than realizing that the God of the universe always has time for me. Learning to how to affirm God, who is affirming me in those moments is what discernment is about. That is, learning to stop and notice God in my every day moments is the lesson and the beauty of life. I can tell you so many stories of simple moments where God showed up, that probably wouldn’t seem that special to you. Moments where it was good to know that God was with me, that God cared enough to touch my shoulder, turn my head, just to let me know I am loved, cared for, and taken care of. It often comes in those moments when the simple things just go smoothly, where things work out as they should, and nothing goes wrong. But how often do we notice when nothing goes wrong? We seem to only notice when things aren’t right, and it’s then that we also seem to see God’s absence instead of his/her presence. If we can’t learn to see God in the good times, how likely are we to see God in the midst of our bad times? Learning that God is always with us, takes seeing God always with us in every moment. Then, when things go wrong, we’ll already have that deep sense of God’s presence instilled within us, which can take us through those bad times with the same calm, confidence developed when everything was good. On the contrary, we won’t likely learn that God is good when things seem bad, if we can’t learn that God is good when everything looks good to us. That’s why it’s important to first learn to sense God’s presence in our normal, everyday lives. But how do we do that?

The second lesson of discernment is developing an inner quietness in order to hear God. The very definition of living life mindlessly, what we could call life stuck in default settings, can be described as simply not paying attention. Contemplation is about learning how to pay attention, and what to pay attention to. That’s where meaning comes from. It comes from paying attention to the right things, and understanding them in the right way. One of my friends is a recovered alcoholic. If you know anything about the mindset of alcoholics, then you know that they tend to see life in an adversarial, negative, legalistic way. Life is always dealing them a bad hand, stacking the cards against them, and ensuring that they never get ahead. They can drive tipsy, hit another car, and swear that God or the universe has cursed them. It’s called an enabling, co-dependent, or victim mentality, and many people live in that space, not just alcoholics. There have been so many times when my friend is laying out the story line of a sorry string of events with the grand conclusion that all these prove that they are destined for misery, loneliness, and failure. But I can see a different story line in those details, because I’m paying attention in a different way, to different parts of those same details. Where my friend can only see the misery, I can see the miraculous. Where my friend only see’s the negative, I can see the positive. The secret isn’t just about being an optimist instead of a pessimist. The secret is in seeing God at work, redeeming our stories, not cursing them. Positive thinking can only get us so far. A positive belief, which leads to positive experience of a present God is more than that. It’s not just about what I choose to pay attention to, but where my attention is drawn, when I’m not attempting to place it anywhere in particular. Put another way, I “see” better when my attention is on God and not my circumstances at all. Learning to see God in all my moments takes looking past those moments to God. On any given day, I am perfectly able to produce a measure of my own positivity. Some people seem to be better at this than others. But on any given day, my own positivity will eventually break down. The kind of hopeful outlook focused on God can see the positive, even in the most negative circumstances, and that is the difference. There are things just too great for our own positive thinking to overcome. Just believing things are good, when they are not, is what we’d call fantasy and delusion, not positive thinking. The ability to embrace the dark with the light takes something more than a positive outlook, which actually tends to cover over and run away from those darker moments. When we know how to sit in the darkness and face it, then we learn how to over come it. Running away from those moments only exacerbates them. It’s what I’ve described in earlier posts as numbing, or why phycology calls dissociative thinking. When we compartmentalize tragedy and tension, and separate from it, we separate and divide our reality, and our selves. We cannot heal from what we will not face. Seeing God in every moment gives us the ability to face every moment, good and bad, with the confidence, clarity, and “Kyros” direction of a God who is ready and able to take us through. It is the inner confidence to know we are going to be okay, always, no matter what, even when nothing but our inner confidence is speaking that. That is the space of inner peace and stillness that can sustain us in all our moments, even the worst. There have been so many moments for me, when I needed to hear that truth again, in the moment, even though I’d heard God speak it thousands of times before. No matter how many difficult things I’ve faced with God, where God has truly come through, I can still get freaked out and afraid in some new struggle, when things don’t seem like they’re going to work out, and I’m not going to come through. My inner stillness is a place I must visit often, whether times are good or bad. It is also a place I must work to maintain in the good times in order to have it work in well in the bad times. I cannot neglect that space and expect it to be there when in crisis, when I suddenly need it. Discernment can only happen as I learn how to live all of life from that place. A place of inner stillness where God is able to speak clearly in a space where I have learned to stop all other noise, including my own.

The contemplative life is a listening life. It is the practice of being all ears, and rarely ever a mouth or mind. It is learning to listen first, and only responding when we have heard God speak. Then we are ever responding to God in our circumstances, not our circumstances themselves. I am not sitting, waiting for life to happen, and then scrambling to figure out what to do, and how to react. That is a reactionary life. I am sitting, always waiting for God to respond, and ready to move with God when he/she does. That also means that, if God is not responding, I need to just keep waiting. That can be the hardest part. Jumping to conclusions is usually the evidence that our more compulsive, ego-self is in charge. Waiting patiently entails a deep kind of trust that God is truly in charge of my life, and is always pointing everything back to the reality of love. I can tell you in very practical terms, what this means for me. It means that in all my centers of being and knowing, I’m striving to only let God speak. In my thought life, in my emotions, in my body feelings and experience, in my soul and spirit, I am always listening for God’s still, small, calm, and quiet voice. It is always the affirming voice of love. When my thoughts or emotions are under the attack of fear. When my body feels wrong, like it is falling apart. When nothing in my life looks good, feels good, or makes sense, I choose not to listen to any other message, or do anything, until I hear what God has to say. God’s voice is always calming, never speaking through fear, shame, or discouragement. God never comes into my struggles with, “how could you do this,” or “look, he’s messed up again.” God is not frustrated by our struggle, not even with our greatest failures and mistakes. God is always here to help us through, even when we are suffering from our own worst, intentional, bad choices. Consequently, God’s voice is always affirming, loving, and kind, not disapproving or condemning. Learning how God speaks helps us distinguish that voice from any other. Unfortunately, we’ve not been well trained to hear that voice, even by well-intended religion. Even when God is helping correct our unhealthy habits, it is still always in love, because God’s aim is to lift us up, not put us down. Anything which feels like a mental, emotional, or physical put down is not from God. There’s a difference between a positive response of remorse to kind, loving correction, and the negative shame that comes from being made to feel we are “bad”. God always affirms the person, even in the midst of correcting our mistakes. Love transforms us out of bad habits and repetitive, harmful choices, by showing us a different way. The difference of that way is love. We know when we are experiencing this positive energy, because it will always feel good, even when it’s pointing to our darkest, least presentable parts and actions. God shines light into our darkness, uncovering our shame, exposing our faults and failures in the light of love. Love turns our shame to joy by revealing that there was never anything to be ashamed of to begin with. That is what Christians call the presence of grace. It is a soft, gentle, uplifting presence when we feel like we should be punished and put down. It says, “I know you messed up, again, but it’s going to be okay.” It also says, “there’s nothing you could do to thwart or block my love for you, except believing that you could.” This is how God speaks to us. It brings the stillness it requires, by calming all the fear, frustration, doubt, and discouragement in the midst of our failure and tragedy by speaking to a different reality of hope, even in our most hopeless times. It is what we would expect love to be like, all the time, regardless of how good or bad we feel about how we are doing at any given moment. That is the truest sense of what it means to say that God is love, with no need for further explanations or conditions.

Love brings a different energy, and speaks with a clear, calm voice. The struggle, for us, is all the other voices speaking into our lives, including our own. We have to begin to make an active, intentional choice to stop listening to any other voice but God’s. Understanding the positive, affirming energy of God’s presence helps. We must begin to look for that energy in all our circumstances, and look away from anything pulling us towards the negative. It’s really a simple exercise, but hard to do. It often means we must quiet every voice first, in order to create a space for God to speak. That is why mindfulness, mediation, and contemplation are important. They entail daily practices in that kind of stillness, which involves attempting to be completely quiet inside. To stop thinking, feeling, moving, and just try to be still and quiet in a moment, for a moment. Then, slowly, learning how to take that quiet with us wherever we go, to learn it so well through intentional, daily practice, that it begins to be and become our entire way of life. Can you imagine what it would be like to only experience the positive, loving energy of God every day, for the rest of your life. No matter what you believe about God or spirituality, you can at least agree that this is a good goal. No negativity. No negative thoughts. No negative emotions. No negative actions and no negative consequences. That is what it’s like to only listen to God, to live fully in that space of this Love-energy which enlivens, fills, and fulfills the entire universe. It is here, all around us, we need only to step into it, and learn to live out it, in order to become whole. But that is no easy process, because there is so much within and without that is resisting this goal. We are also resisting this. Contemplative practice helps identify all the things within us which are blocking us from that goal, and getting rid of them in order step more fully into that space of God’s loving energy. That is the hard part of the journey. That is the process of suffering, and letting go. What is it that’s keep us trapped in such places, apart from that space of love? Even when we reject all the negative language and concepts of unhealthy religion – like sin, total depravity, and our fallenness – we still can’t deny the reality that we seem inherently unable to transcend the negativity of our daily, personal, inner and outer experience. Negativity, no matter how hard we try, seems to dominate our experience. That’s not hard to see. The reality is that, when we try to get still inwardly, we’re in for a fight. It’s not going to come easily. We’re going to experience resistance, and we’re going to have to push through that resistance. Fortunately, we have lots of help, which brings me to the third aspect of discernment, which some call prayer.

We’re not going to get through this on our own, and we’re not supposed to. We need direct, Divine energy filling up this endeavor with a strength beyond our strength. Prayer is simply the process of inviting God into the process. Whatever we’ve learned about prayer, or heard about prayer – whether negative or positive – the essence of prayer is striving to live our lives in the life of God. It is what the contemplatives call mystical union, and what Christianity calls communion. Jesus tried to illustrate the depth of this idea in the Jewish Passover meal, the night before he died, through the physical objects of bread and wine. He called the bread his “body” and the wine his “blood.” He also said, in an earlier conversation, that his followers needed to eat his body and drink his blood in order to live life in God. Sounds kind of gory, but it’s meant to illustrate the intensity of this idea that we need to activate and enliven our lives with the deeper energy of God. Prayer, communion, mystical union are all the same thing. It’s about the reality that we will never overcome our impulse towards negative energy unless God’s positive energy comes in to take its place. We can’t get there on our own. Creating a place of stillness, even if that were possible on our own, is not for the purpose of stillness alone, but for the purpose hearing when God speaks. God speaking is the point. But the idea of “speaking” is hardly a full enough idea. God filling us with the flow of his/her positive energy is the best way to think about this. That’s why Jesus used such an extreme metaphor when trying to capture this idea. It’s like we’re eating God. When you eat something, it gets absorbed into your body in the fullest sense. It creates the energy of life, and gets absorbed into every part of your body in one way or another. Jesus was trying to illustrate, the best way he could, that God’s positive energy does the same thing for our whole being. It gives us the strength in our mind, heart, body, and spirit to move away from the negative, and towards the positive. That’s what prayer and communion are about. In simple terms that can mean asking God a question, or asking God for help. But don’t reduce this to the idea of simply getting God to do something for you, as many religious people do. God is not just some cosmic genie who might give you what you want, if you ask enough, or ask in the right way. When we approach prayer from an ego-centric stance, how prayer works will seem confusing and frustrating, because sometimes it will seem like we’re getting answers, and sometimes not. The point of prayer is not to get God to do things for us, but to get in the flow of God’s energy in order to live life in that positive flow. But I also don’t want you to be afraid of doing it “wrong”. We’ve got to start somewhere, and starting usually means doing things poorly before we learn to do things well. Jesus also once said that we do not get God-answers because we don’t even bother to ask. So, ask, and keep asking. Regardless my struggles to know and hear God, the one thing I always did well was ask. I was always talking to God like a best friend, asking all kinds of questions. It became just a way for me to walk through my own struggles and questions, to that with God instead of alone. That’s the point. Now, I didn’t get a lot of clear, discernable answers for a long time. I’d say, the percentage of clear answer in the beginning of the experiment was probably less the five. Yes, I just said that I actually got clear answers from God less five percent of the time. That can be frustrating, if we don’t understand that learning to hear God is a long, slow process which starts with a pretty low success rate, and grows over time. It takes a long time, but there comes a point where growth becomes exponential. Expect the first years of practice to be very slow, but it only takes a few really clear and vibrant experiences of “hearing” God to get the ball rolling a bit faster. Even one experience teaches us a lot. Unfortunately, no one can teach you how to hear God, except the experience of actually hearing God. The experience of each person is widely different, and personal. There are some common denominators, but “hearing” God is generally as vast and varied as God is. The real point, especially in the beginning, is just to do it, and do it often. The more we pray, the more we will grow in prayer. Just keep in mind, it is a whole person experience. It is not about “getting answers,” but experiencing the person of God in our person. It’s not some external, detached experience, like getting a letter in the mail. It’s a full immersion into the flow of an energy that enlivens every part of our being. It can come through our thoughts, emotions, body, soul, and spirit, separately, in different combinations, or all at once. The point is to be ready to experience God fully, in every part of our being. In other words, don’t limit your expectations. Expect anything, and everything, when it comes to how God will show up for you. The main thing we can do is be ready for it. Expect it! Show up! Keep asking, listening, searching, seeking, and opening yourself up for it. A skeptical, doubting approach won’t get you there. Not many come to “see” God with a “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach. You don’t usually see what you’re not looking for, what you’re not expecting to see. A long, slow, steady, intentional approach towards prayer works best. If you just keep going, you will get there eventually. It’s up to you to maintain the focus. God will do the rest.

There are many ways I could continue attempting to illuminate the idea of discernment, but I’ll end with this fourth and last encouragement. You will benefit greatly in discernment by reading about the experience of others who have walked the same path before you. If the Bible is meant to teach us anything, its greatest purpose is to illuminate our own journey of discernment by illustrating what that journey was like for others. That’s the point of any good, religious text. It’s not meant to circumvent or replace our need to know God, but to help us get there ourselves. I’m sorry to say, too many Christians “know” the Bible, but they don’t really know God, which is the very purpose of the Bible to begin with. The Bible is just a picture book of what it’s like to know God, so we can learn to know God for ourselves. The good thing, is that there are plenty of other books which can do the very same thing for us as well. If you’ve got too much Bible PTSD, then don’t worry about it. You don’t need the Bible to know God. There are plenty of other, current, and culturally relevant sources we can get our hands on in order to learn how to know God through the experience of others. We’re not meant to do this alone. We need to walk together, if we’re going to travel well on the road of learning to experience God for ourselves. The practice and experiences of others will help us tremendously. You don’t have to re-invent that wheel all on your own. For me, the Bible was extremely helpful on this journey. It actually led me to reject a lot of what others had taught me (supposedly based on the Bible), and push through a lot of unhealthy religious tradition to a place where I have finally come to know God for myself. The formula is right there in the very same Bible used to keep a large majority of Christians throughout history from that very same pursuit. But there have also been a lot of other, really good spiritual teachers I’ve encountered through other sources. Together, all these sources have given me the courage and hope to keep going in my own journey to know God, because they put me in contact with others who showed me that it was possible, others who struggled through and came to know God themselves. Just keep in mind, there’s a difference between those trying to know God for you, and those trying help you know God for yourself. Much of religion is more of the first. Many religious people are operating from the same ego-centric space as you are, and are content to be the source of God for others, because it feeds their ego. It’s not hard to know the difference. Again, you know when something is positive or negative. You can feel it. Trust your inner experience of the positive and the negative. Any religious teaching that leads you away from that inner experience, which attempts to make others experience paramount, and yours problematic, is not helpful or healthy. The energy of God is available to everyone. Anyone trying to be the source of that energy for you is merely blocking you from that flow. But you can trust this truth, the more you learn by watching others do it, the more you will begin to do it too. That’s how we really learn everything. We need to get our hands and hearts on it. We’ve got to touch, taste, see, feel, and experience it for ourselves. Dry, dead religion is evidenced by its own dry deadness. It’s the very reason so many are fleeing modern churches today, because they can feel the very absence of anything life-giving in it. I wish with all my heart that this were not so. I wish my own tribe had a better understanding of what feeds the flow of God, and what blocks it. But, no matter. For you, on this journey with me, just keep looking for good sources of that flow. You know what speaks to your heart, what feeds it, what is good. Trust your heart to show you, because God is already in your heart. Any religion which teaches you that God is scowling at you from some cosmic corner, because you’re too “dirty” for God, and must first get “clean” in order for God to even touch you with a ten foot pole, is not healthy religion, and not right. God is already right here with you, walking with you, pouring into you. You’re already experiencing God, just by breathing, just by being in the world. Trust that experience, and learn better how to lean more into it by watching others who are also doing the same. Do your homework. Take the time to find some good sources to help you on this journey. You have the internet. You have a library. Even if you don’t, you have the best thing of all. You have God right there with you, ready to help. God’s already been doing this for you all along. That’s the beauty of this journey. It’s already happening for you. Now, it just needs to start happening with you, as you start to attempting to walk with God. You don’t have to somehow convince God to do this, to “get right” in order for God to get off some cosmic throne and come down into the process. God is already all around you, the energy of all living things, living inside all things, loving all things continually into life. If you are alive, you are already in God. The spiritual journey is just growing our awareness of a God who is already here. And that awareness can change everything.

I want so much for everyone to experience God as I have, to experience God for themselves. I don’t know if there are a lot of genuine spiritual teachers out there really pushing this idea. The world is full of religion, and religious people, but not many true God-knowing people, I’m sorry to say. I know just how much I’ve struggled through so much dead religion to get here, and how many in that dead religion would probably think what I’m saying is dangerous, even harmful. All I can say is that, we all know love when we see it. Love leaves no one out. Love does not war against “evil” people, it loves broken people back to life. Purity cults must always point to some other group as evil, in order to feel they are good, and much of religion is simply that. If you have to define your goodness by pointing to someone else’s badness, then you have yet to experience the goodness of God. But it’s never too late, for anyone. God is available to everyone. There are no hoops to jump through, no right rules to get right, and keep. There is only love, calling us back to love, and loving us back to life. You know what love feels like. It’s truly like breathing. You know when you are breathing good, clean air, and when that air is polluted. Stay away from the polluted air of dead religion, and find those open spaces where you can begin to breath more freely the good breath of God. At its most basic level, discernment is accomplished simply by believing it’s possible. Any good religion is meant to help foster that belief. The core of my good experience in Christianity did just that. For all the static and useless noise, I did get that clear message from other Christians, even from some who didn’t believe it enough to get it themselves. But I’m still thankful they taught me, regardless their own struggles. It’s not hard to see how Christianity has failed so many, and not surprising. It’s just as full of broken, ego-centric, self-centered people as any other group. The only real problem is not admitting that. But I’m admitting it to you, so that maybe you can look past those flaws and see that even in Christianity there is still that same good, healthy message that I got out of it, that you can really know God for yourself. If you’re a Christian, I hope you can also push through the static to that place. You don’t have to go anywhere else to get to God either. But you might have to recognize some very unhealthy aspects of your own religion in order to get out into that more open space, where knowing God becomes possible. You might have to stop relying on others to do that for you, to be God for you, and start doing some of that work for yourself. And if you’re not a Christian, or even hate Christianity, the good news is that knowing God is so much bigger than any one religion. God is not a “Christian.” God is not Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or Jainist. God is not even religious, and you don’t have to be religious either to know God. Just don’t rule out the helpful possibility that you need the example of other God-knowers to help get you there. You’re going to have to put aside your own troubled skepticism, regardless where you start, in order to start walking this path. You have to believe it’s possible to know God, in order to come to know God. And you’ve got to keep believing it all along the way. There are going to be discouraging days, and moments when you feel like giving up. But don’t give up. Not giving up is the only thing that will get you there, eventually.

I never begrudge anyone their doubts about God. I understand just how daunting, and discouraging this whole process can be. There’s a reason so few have actually found their way to this place of really knowing God. I mean, really, could God have made it even a little easier. I get the doubt. I doubted it a lot, all the way to this place where I actually know God for myself. Doubt is not really a problem. Doubt is just another question we can bring to God. Doubt is never the problem, separation is. Doubting with God is not the same as doubting apart from God. Even the most devout, spiritual, God-connected person still experiences days of doubt. Doubt is not the evidence of God’s absence, but just a good reminder that this journey takes daily commitment, and daily practice to get us there, and keep us there. You have to practice it to get it. It’s not going to come without you doing some things to open yourself up to it. But that’s the difference. Are you attempting to move towards God, or standing resolute apart from God, determined to never even look in that general direction? You’ll never see what you’re trying forcibly to not see. I’ll let you in on a little secret, there are even a lot of Christians intentionally trying not to know God. They really don’t want to. They’re content just to let someone else do the work for them, and they’re reaping the results. So, don’t feel bad about your doubt, and your struggle. It’s hard to overcome a lot of the obstacles in our way, and on our way to knowing God. But you have to at least want to do it, in order to even begin. For many, religion is just a lazy man’s game. They know their religion is getting them out of the effort it takes to know God personally, and they’re okay with that. That’s what they really want. They may never admit that, but it’s evident in their practice. They are, essentially, practicing life just like the majority of other people. The point, you have to practice what you want to learn. It’s not going to fall into your lap accidentally. Even if it did, you would just brush it away, because it’s not the thing you’re looking to practice anyway. You have to want it to get it. So, the question is, do you want it? Is there any value for you in the idea of knowing God? I hope you see the value, and I hope I’m helping you with that. I can’t always say why I’ve pursued that goal, or that I always did it well. I’ve been a lazy, religious person too, at times in my life. But somehow, by the grace of God, God still got me here. It feels like a miracle, not like a good work I did myself in order to get myself here. But I know at least that I never really let go of the desire to know God, even when the practice of it waxed and waned in my life. So, let’s keep practicing together. We’ll get there together, if we just don’t give up.

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