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Finding refuge in desperate times

When I become still, the distressing images of destruction from the news resurface, reminding me that we're truly living in desperate times. My greatest challenge at that time, lies in navigating through discontent and disillusionment to rediscover the path leading to contentment and peace. I've come to understand that I might have been searching in the wrong places.

"I wish someone had told me that my first step, the first step anyone must take is inward.

That all I needed to do was learn the practice of opening to and discovering the true self sitting inside of me quietly, and then from there, the rest would come easier.

I wish someone had told me that my true value and worth would be found not through attaining or gaining but in meeting this self.

I wish someone would have told me that from going within I would learn that housed within me was a tremendous life. My truest version of self, a self free of suffering and story, my own personal guidance system and a tremendous wealth of wisdom and knowing."

I want to join Sarah Blondin's cry. I also wish someone would have just told me this simple truth instead of burdening me with all kinds of religous requirements. The first thing I should have learnt and that I should have taught my children should have been that everything you need is inside and by connecting with it, you will undoubtedly find your calling and everything else you are looking for.

For many years, turning inward has been my daily practice, gradually uncovering a refuge within—a place where I can retreat when I wish to step away from the demands of my life.

Thomas Merton described this place of refuge like this:

"At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, ...

This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us ...

The real freedom is to be able to come and go from that center and to be able to do without anything that is not immediately connected to that center.

Because when you die, that is all that is left. When we die, everything is destroyed except for this one thing, which is our reality, and which is the reality that God preserves forever...."

When we die - that is all that is left ...

I strongly believe, based on my own experiences, that true freedom is achieved when we can let go of anything not directly connected to our inner essence and effortlessly tap into and return to that core whenever we choose. Although the experience is sporadic, I'm gradually gaining ground and feeling a more natural and lasting connection to that inner place.

Nevertheless, it is vital to first unveil this inner core, as the journey frequently demands letting go of numerous attachments. We need to discover the treasure hidden in the field, look at it, desire to own it with all our hearts, so that we can endure the pain of giving up everything else to be able to own that treasure just as Jesus explained.

During the tumultuous era of the Second World War, Thomas R. Kelly emphasized through his life and teachings that attaining this freedom is feasible. He also asserted that our inner core genuinely seeks to manifest itself practically in our lives:

"Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself.

Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life.

It is a dynamic center, a creative life that presses to birth within us.

Here is the slumbering Christ, stirring to be awakened to become the soul we clothe in earthly form and action.

And He is within us all."

He emphasizes that the "Light within, the slumbering Christ," is a dynamic center, eager to be awakened and beckoning us to return to Itself. This dynamic center is what we carry within, and it yearns to be revealed. If someone had guided me earlier in life to this source of genuine freedom, it would have spared me a great deal of pain.

Within the depths of my being, within my real self, I am discovering an embodiment of the Unseen. Each cell, every organ, the realm of my thoughts, the spectrum of emotions, my trials and triumphs – all manifest veiled facets of this Presence. These concealed attributes of Love would otherwise remain unseen, residing only in the very nucleus of my existence.

It is my destiny to unveil them, a purpose my whole life has been designed for. Everything I've undertaken or achieved only holds genuine significance insofar as it contributes to this revelation.

At my core, I am, in essence, an exhibition.

Within this display, the radiance of God's very essence is showcased.

Thomas R Kelly asks:

"How then shall we lay hold of that life and power and live the life of prayer without ceasing?

By quiet, persistent practice in turning of all our being day and night, in prayer and inward worship and surrender toward him, who calls in the depths of our souls. Mental habits of inward orientation must be established

An inner, secret turning to God can be made fairly steady after weeks and months and years of practice and lapses and failures and returns. It is as simple an art as Brother Lawrence found it, but it may be long before we achieve any steadiness in the process."

I have learnt through the years that connecting with my deepest me requires a continuous practice of turning inside, of seeking to connect with my core. This journey has led me to incorporate various reminders throughout my day. Some serve as cues to turn inward, while others encourage me to take a break from the busy pace of life. One of the most rewarding practices I've adopted is a type of meditation known as "Centering Prayer."

Other people may have different words to describe this "point of nothingness". And it is far from me to dispute their understanding.

My word for my deepest me, is “Jesus“ for that is my heritage and my experience. I cannot deny years of intimacy with him. I have heard him speak in an audible voice and in a whisper and in my thoughts and I have felt his tangible presence and seen his face.

I am a Christian, not because being “saved” provides fire-insurance against eternal damnation or because I think that the tradition is the only one that can express truth.

I have come to love the intensely personal and relational nature of the Christian understanding about the persons that make up the "Trinity", their interaction with mere humans and the unique doctrine of Incarnation found in this tradition. I've discovered the possibility to relate to and love Someone who dwells within the depths of my being on a profoundly personal level, anticipating responses to my questions and supernatural interventions in my life.

I've found that my core is a person, and I identify that person as Jesus. Ultimately, it's not solely because the Bible says so; rather, my belief is grounded in witnessing the positive impact in my life. It's not about claiming superiority over others who find meaning in different teachings; it's a deeply personal connection for me, rooted in the love I've discovered.

And for me, Jesus is the I am who lives in this I am and who is filling this earthy, glorious vessel with eternal, glorious Presence.

My deepest me is Jesus, and he said: “At that day you will know that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you” Jn14.

I have come to that day … I have come to know … and it has changed my life.

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Tracey Richardson
Tracey Richardson
Nov 12, 2023

Stephan, I wanted to express my admiration for your truly beautiful and heartfelt piece of writing. The inclusion of the Merton and Thomas Kelly quotes adds a profound depth to your words, and it resonates deeply within me.

Witnessing your journey as you explore the true meaning of life has been nothing short of incredible. Your bravery in pouring your heart and soul into into your journey is something I deeply appreciate. By sharing your experiences and being open about your struggles and joys, you have created a space for growth and connection between us and Jesus, allowing us all to attain a deeper understanding.

Your storytelling abilities are exceptional, and I am grateful for the way you express yourself…


Joe de Swardt
Joe de Swardt
Nov 12, 2023

What a great piece of peace! Love it, and it’s timely. Thank you for writing it and then sharing this.

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