Book Club Channel
Sanctuary of the Soul: A Book Excerpt
As a beginning experience in recollection we might want to seat ourselves comfortably, and then slowly and deliberately let all tension and anxiety drop away. We become aware of God's presence in the room. If it helps we might picture Christ seated in the chair across from us, for he is truly present. If frustrations or distractions arise, we will want to lift them up into the arms of the Father, letting God care for them. This is not suppressing our inner turmoil but letting go of it. Suppression implies a pressing down, a keeping in check, whereas in recollection we are giving away, releasing. It is even more than a neutral psychological relaxing. It is an active surrendering, a "self-abandonment to divine Providence," to use the phrase of Jean-Pierre de Caussade.
Precisely because the Lord is present with us we can relax and let go of everything, for in the divine Presence nothing really matters, nothing is of importance except at- tending to God. We allow inner distractions and frustrations to melt away as snow before the sun. We allow God to calm the storms that rage within. We allow God's great silence to still our noisy heart.
A Glad Surrender
Several things occur in the process of recollection. First, there is a glad surrender to him "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Rev 1:8). We surrender control over our life and our destiny. In an act of deliberate intention we decide to do things God's way and not our way.
We surrender our possessiveness and invite God to possess us in such a way that we are truly crucified with Christ and yet truly alive through his life (Gal 2:19-20). We relinquish into God's hands our imperialist ambitions to be greater and more admired, to be richer and more powerful, to be saintlier and more influential.
We surrender our cares and worries. "Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you," said Peter (1 Pet 5:7). And so we do, precisely because we sense God's loving care. We are enabled to give up the need to watch out for number one because we have One who is watching out for us.
It may be helpful to picture a box in which we place every worry and every care. When it is full, we gift-wrap it, placing a lovely big bow on top, and give it up as a present to the Father. God receives it, and we must not take it back, for to take back a gift once given is most discourteous.
We surrender our good intentions and high resolves, for even these can harbor the seeds of pride and arrogance. Before she died Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, "Pray for me that I not loosen my grip on the hands of Jesus even under the guise of ministering to the poor." Her words are insightful here, for if we "loosen our grip on the hands of Jesus," we have lost everything. So we surrender all distraction—even good distraction—until we are driven into the Core.
A Spirit of Repentance and Confess ion
A second thing that occurs within us as we learn recollection is the rise of a spirit of repentance and confession. Suddenly we become aware—keenly aware—of our shortcomings and many sins. All excuses are stripped away; all self-justifications are silenced. A deep, godly sorrow wells up within for the sins of commission and the sins of omission. Any deed or thought that cannot stand in the searching light of Christ becomes repulsive not only to God but to us as well. Thus humbled under the cross we confess our need and receive his gracious word of forgiveness.