‘Unless there is a still centre in the middle of the storm, unless a person in the midst of all their activities preserves a secret room in their heart, where they can be alone before God, then they will lose all sense of spiritual direction, and be torn to pieces.’ – Kallistos Ware
I came across this quote today in something I was reading. Cultivating that secret room in the heart has been a devotional focus of mine more especially in the last year. Not particularly because my life was full of storms, but because there is nothing else I want in the world but to live life aware of his abiding presence. I find that living a very public life in ministry, I need to balance the ‘outward’ with the ‘inward’, particularly because of my personality style, but especially because of the role I have.
There is something I really don’t understand and that is why any follower of Jesus wouldn’t have the pursuit of the presence of God as a priority in their life. I just don’t get it. I really try to resist making the judgement as to why people I sometimes encounter don’t have the intention to cultivate that ‘secret room’ and try to encourage and challenge. However, you can normally see the fruit of the inner life in the outer expression of life, and I’m looking mainly at myself! I know how my life turns if I neglect the matters of the heart.
There is a fantastic Old Welsh word, ‘cymbrogi’, which means ‘companions of the heart.’ It comes from that ancient sense of community bondedness. Most of us will find that we need the encouragement of others to move towards the creation of that room. For me, regular Spiritual Direction and my Northumbria Community mentor keep that question alive for me: what is God doing in your life? where is he moving? how are you praying with that? what is giving you joy or sorrow? what decisions are facing you and where is God in it?
Do you have someone to ask you these questions and listen with you? So helpful. I’ve been so grateful to have had the opportunity to do six months of training on the ministry of Spiritual Direction, the ministry of ‘holy listening’ and I’m glad to say I’ve actually found the best way for me to engage in a pastoral form of ministry (as opposed to evangelistic, strategic or teaching). The building of the ‘secret room’ is so crucial for when the storms rage. What are you building with?