Thomas Merton has said that seeking You is not so much an organized ascetic system as it is a learning to be quiet through prayer, self-denial and love so that You may possess us.
By my lack of stillness and quiet, my constant flurry of activities, I always get in the way of Your possessing me. To be possessed means to be so one-dimensionally obsessed with something that it pervades our very existence to the witness of all. Though I may wish and long to be possessed by You, and though I may say I seek it, I, in fact, do a great deal to thwart it. I am one of those people who is very organized and systematic about almost everything. This approach itself, whether applied to my spiritual life or the practicalities of daily life, creates a barrier to Your possession of me. A man in Frank Bianco’s book Voices of Silence puts it this way: “…Why do you suppose those moments of solitude offer us such relief? [the answer is] Because they give us a chance to simply be ourselves, to enjoy what and where we are, to savor just being. Alone with God we feel no need to perform, to do. The pressure is off.”
Sounds simple, but for me it’s not; for even when I daily sequester myself in silence and stillness with You, my busy mind fights Your taking possession of me by conjuring up a stream of thoughts about what I will do after this period. To systematically plan to spend x-number of minutes alone in silence with You on a regular basis is one step forward, but to perfect this approach in all my waking hours as one of stillness and quiet in Your presence in all I do, is the ideal. This is the door we must learn to keep open in order for You to enter and possess us. It is a door marked “stillness” – stillness more of spirit than of body, although stillness of body helps.
Ultimately we should be able to remain active and work while maintaining, at the same time, a stillness of spirit that keeps the door open. A constant sense of Your companionship, in every step of our day’s journey is characteristic of the spirit of stillness by which You are able to possess us. Therefore, whatever keeps You present to us all day long – the “Jesus Prayer,” seeing You in others, in nature, mental prayer, etc., will help create the interior stillness that is needed no matter what we’re doing exteriorly.