It took several hours for me to find silence. At first I chased it, then shunned it, then cried over it. I had been led into the desert by the Holy Spirit and tasked to give up time- but very specific time. The time I spend in indulgence on platforms like You Tube watching silly videos or other such things that lead my mind to numbness. And although on first blush one might think that I was being to hard on myself, if you look deeper you can find the root of God’s request. When we substitute one thing for another to numb the pain or busyness of life, it is not holy, it is tragedy.

In my “day” job, I live as an attorney representing a major metropolitan police department. I am involved on a larger scale in our county on issues that effect millions of people- school shootings, the role of school resource officers and the taking of guns from people who are not in a place to have them. I look at horrible pictures, write laws and make decisions for people who are not equipped to make them for themselves. I have been operating within the confines of the criminal justice system for the past almost twenty years.

And so when I yearn for a break, for decompression, for peace, it is hard to simply “sit” in silence. The echoes of war ring deep in my soul. I think of guns, dying and the battlefield that my police officers live on daily. I worry about them, I pray for them, and I pray for myself. But most days, I cannot seem to simply let go…

So God asked me to fill my “quiet” time with all things Him, not to use escapes to deal with pain or to allow my mind to simply wander. And I attempted this for the first time on Day 4 of Lent, as days 1-3 were so busy at work and home I practically fell asleep in my clothes. After God cleared my calendar yesterday and I vehemently objected, I was left with nothing but myself… and Him.

And so I heeded His call. I found myself immersed in a documentary called “Chosen, ” a behind the scenes look at life as a cloistered nun behind the sacred walls of a monastery. The subtitle of the film, “Custody of the Eyes.”

The film was breathtaking and deeply disturbing all at the same time. But the disturbance was in my soul. I longed to be locked up with them even if only for  a short period of time. I adored their habit, simplicity and love for our Lord. I felt interrupted and challenged, questioning myself and my vocation, thinking about all of the time I had wasted not focused on the eyes of Jesus. I wanted my house to be a convent, a reflection of Him and His love for humanity.

One hour and 44 minutes is a long time to spend in a monastery, and I didn’t ever want it to end. I thought about their rules, expectations and order and I craved that. I have always had a profound respect and love for nuns since I was a small child. Maybe it was me gazing into my future entry into beloved Mother Church…

But I came out on the other end changed, wanting, needing…more. I felt alive in the silence of their monastery walls. I wanted to rid myself of idleness, of cheap substitutes and distractions. Because time is limited. Because it all should belong to God.

You can read more about “Chosen” here

I encourage you to watch it this Lent. For those at parishes that have the app “Formed” it can be found on there.

 

7 thoughts on “Cloistered Words

  1. I’m telling you— I’m a poor Clare who got stuck outside

    Liked by 1 person

  2. atimetoshare.me says:

    I’d never be a good nun. For one thing, I’m Lutheran. I also don’t think I’d look good in a habit. For another I need people in my life. When I go into hiding, I feel like I’m pulling away from God rather than keeping Him with me all the time. Your life is different than mine though. You have littles to care for – futures to plan – a husband to share with and many things that require most of your “quiet” time. Maybe when you reach your 70s you’ll change your mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Melissa Zelniker-Presser says:

      Lol. Right now a life of silence sounds like a soothing balm! I’ve forgotten what it sounds like

      Liked by 1 person

      1. atimetoshare.me says:

        There will come a day when you miss all the chaos of today.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Melissa Zelniker-Presser says:

        Yes you’re right Kathy!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. ME says:

    For me, the focus of worthiness really grabbed my soul. Reading St. Faustina’s diary, how can I miss the simplest of offenses against my God whom I profess my greatest love for? I feel I over value my worthiness entirely to often, even though I pray for the greatest of humility. Ego is our greatest demon I feel. My hurt feelings, what about me, but you, and you…all ego driven defense mechanisms, blame game, anything but my responsibility. I pray for the virtue of action and not virtue signaling from words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Melissa Zelniker-Presser says:

      Yes this is so hard for me too, giving myself away, walking away from ego. How do we let go of that? We face God instead of ourselves. I imagine His face, His glory and say, Lord I give it all to you, my self, the work of my hands, all of it. Lord Jesus help me to remain humble today in the garden of my soul. Amen.

      Like

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