I took a walk today in the muted autumn sun. Although 60 degrees, the bare naked branches declared the arrival of winter soon approaching. Twelve years ago, I experienced a winter of my soul.
Attending a convention in Nashville, I will never forget the look of terror and fear in my eyes as I observed my reflection in the hotel mirror. While there, I sought the help of a spiritual director because I felt I wasn’t praying enough in my daily life. She told me not to feel guilty, but to “just light a candle as a simple act of remembering God.”
Desperately searching for a candle and matches while out of town, I found some at a nearby store. Returning to my room, I wept and prayed my own psalms to God throughout the night. I prayed that God might give me direction in my life because, at the moment, I felt as though I wasn’t really living. As I drove home, I saw the old beloved Busch Stadium crumbling to the ground. It seemed symbolic of my dry, cracked, dying soul.
One of the courses I had signed up for at the conference was, providentially, full and the class I took instead was called “Becoming the Beloved: Healing Our Identity in God.” In this class I learned various contemplative ways to pray and was astounded at how God spoke to me through prayer. The Holy Spirit touched me, then, in a way I had never experienced before. This was a huge turning point in my spiritual journey.
Returning home, I felt fractured and vulnerable and, through my despair, realized I had lost touch of who God created me to be. God was there all along, but I didn’t know to ask for help and I didn’t think I needed help. Yet my experiences and conversations with God in the secret corners of my heart were real. This was the beginning of my deep conviction in God’s amazing grace.