Buffer zones

Wednesday 16 April 2008

Sometimes I feel like there is not enough of a buffer zone between me and the rest of the world. It's like a psychological force field or something, which allows you to feel like you can breathe, in the space between where you end and everybody else begins. Does that make sense, or am I betraying my insanity? I think when humans are functioning healthily, we have a large zone between us and everything else. It enables calm inside the storm. It is the rest of God which I have been talking about so much this week. Living in that rest is a bit of a production, though, and I am so glad that the Producer is committed to wonderful outcomes no matter how long they take.

Buffer zones. I watched a show several weeks ago about a man with Tourette's Syndrome who found it very hard to filter things out. They took him to stand in the middle of Grand Central Station, and he picked out how he could hear that woman's footsteps over there, and hear the conversation these people were having over here, on and on. Maybe I do have Tourette's Syndrome after all :) But no, mine isn't quite as intense as that. Mine is more a case of needing tons of time to reflect and process, not so much on an intellectual level as emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. I think all of humanity has problems with filtering. Especially living in our world.

That thing out there, that world, it's no secret it's frenetic. Now, of course, sometimes frenetic is fun. It's good getting caught up in colour and life and stuff happening. But when you're of a contemplative bent then it all gets a bit frazzling quite quickly. I went into the desert of CFS of a philosophical bent and came out a philosophical contemplative. To be too long out in the frenzy of 21st century Western culture is much more overwhelming these days than it used to be before I got ill. Perhaps it is a case of having discovered the rest of God; it's like once you tune into the speed of life, you find a rhythm there that just makes the pace of current life look like some kinda crazy whirligig, a blustering after nothing much of the time, a spinning in one spot, chasing our tails. So much of what we do is pointless. How scary it is to discover that.

And how awesome to have discovered that. Deserts might be barren upon first inspection; no one could mistake them for lush. And lush has its place. Lush is ... well, you can swim around in lush, immerse yourself, fill yourself up, wash your hair in it and drink it. Lush is grace. Do that in the desert and you'll get grit in your eyes and sand burn. It's lonely in the desert and there is the potential for dying of dehydration or of hypothermia. Those changes in temperature are brutal. But the desert slows you down. It strips away. It shows you a stick and it tells you to start digging for the living water underneath. The desert is necessary. The desert can become a friend.

I did some centering prayer this morning. It made me wonder: if you had to choose a verse which Westerners in this time are thirsty to hear the most, what do you think it would be? Sometimes I think it's, "Be still and know that I am God". We are running to stand still, because we are scared that there's nothing there if we look into the nothingness. But it turns out there's more in the nothingness than there ever will be in our frenzy.

I never wanted to live in the desert. It isn't after all a place that we are really meant to live in. Not forever, anyway. It's not a place we're destined for. We get to have a whole lotta lush; it's what we've been made for. But sometimes the most direct way to lush is through the desert.

God is everywhere, man. Centreing prayer - expands my buffer zone. Makes me feel ... centred. Funny, that :)


  1. Wonderful post, Sue! Now that is just how I feel, most of the time.

    Your choice of, "Be still and know that I am God" as a key verse for our time is perfect. That is precisely what is needed, and yet it's precisely the last thing that occurs to folks actually caught in the "crazy whirligig"!

    Thank you - and may all the blessings of the Desert of the Heart remain with you always!


  2. Mike - may the blessings of the Desert of the Heart rebound off me here and return doublefold to you :)

  3. Hi Sue,
    I'm a California native and have a couple of deserts that are dear to me. The Anza-Borrego and Joshua Tree Monument. Amazing places. What always amazed me about them the most was that though they appear to be so barren, they are actually teaming with so much life. I miss camping in the desert. Shoot, I miss seeing the stars. Anyhow, thanks for sharing your blog and thoughts! Marie

  4. I like your "About me" section. It shows everyone that you're not pretending to be something you're not. I like your blog. :)

  5. Hey Marie! :) Yes, that's the most amazing thing about the desert, isn't it? The life. Such a good good thing to ponder.

    Thank you, Anonymous :) Well, sometimes I pretend to be something I'm not. Don't we all? But I figure it's safety in reality, and if I'm discombobulated then blog about it :) Cheers


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