October 22, 2015

When We Get the Call.

Flickr/Gisela Giardino https://www.flickr.com/photos/gi/

Sometimes in life we are called to go deeper.

There is a little voice inside of us that gets louder and louder, until we can’t ignore it anymore as there must be a certain necessity to its beckoning.

We are being asked by this voice to learn something new—something different than what our external world has already offered.

It was just such a scenario that I found myself in, and so I decided to take a reprieve from my normal routine in the city and shuffle my inner voice and I off to a silent meditation retreat.

The call from within wasn’t a whisper anymore; it had become quite a loud appeal.

I was hoping that the peaceful space provided by the meditation center would be absorbed into my body. I was hoping for the quiet without to become a quietening within. The little voice inside of me had been rubbing me the wrong way for a while now.

I wasn’t sure exactly what it was that it wanted from me. It spoke a different language than the outside world I mostly lived in. My patience was running low at my own fruitless attempts to translate its vocabulary.

To be honest, I just wanted it to go away.

I wanted to be left alone with the normal feeling of equanimity and forward motion that I thought most people—and life in the city—required. Meditation and I were not new to each other, and I expected to feel a homecoming and peace on this retreat, a harmonious tete-a-tete with my own inner workings.

What I found though was something a little different.

When I sat down on my cushion in the wooden-floored meditation hall and lowered my gaze, the first thing my mind caught was dust dancing through a sunbeam. It did feel like home there, with this simple noticing and slowing down. The center was a quiet place where my heart felt it had the space to open and bloom. I was held there by myself and others in stillness. It felt like we became apprentice revolutionaries, sitting for two days doing not a thing.

The instruction we received on the retreat from the meditation teacher was simple.

“Make friends,” he said. “Do this with yourself first.”

As I sat with my own inner voice and her intense yearning to be understood, I thought, “This friendship thing, it is really going to take me a little more time.”

She hadn’t become quieter on the retreat.

In fact, it was the stillness at the center that pointed me back, directly to the loudness within.

Making friends with the voice that calls—to follow her lead, and to not use even a spiritual practice to take us away—is a big lesson to learn; it seemed it was my time to learn it. It was going to take some time, but I knew that she and I could do it. That was the nature of really important life lessons—they came along with their own scheduled plan.

The message from our teacher, “Make friends with yourself,” was what I took back to the city with me, not a quieter inner experience. We could spend our lifetimes trying to subdue the pull of a greater depth, but in doing this we would be ignoring an important part of our larger purpose.

The little voice that calls from within us is not here to be silenced.

It is here to be received and understood. It is here to be held closely and tenderly, until we are ready to open to its fullness. It is our inner calling that wants us to understand that its beckoning is just as vital to our flourishing as the call of the world around us.

I believe that I was starting to comprehend a little of my own inner voice’s special language.

And I believe that you can, too.



To the Stranger who Helped Me Speak to My Silence.


Author: Sarah Norrad

Editor: Erin Lawson

Photos: Flickr/Helga Weber // Flickr/Gisela Giardino


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