With that inner noise silenced, I hear at least some of what God would say to me. I hear it in the breezes that flow down the Canyon and in the tumbling waters. I hear it even in my own breath. I become aware that this still small Voice is available to me, if not all the time, at least much more often than I am inclined to hear it.
What that Voice gradually discloses to me is the extent to which my plans are a form of idolatry—an idolatry of self, an idolatry of me. My plans stem from a desire to control and direct and never be at the mercy of anyone or anything else—even God. And to know this is to begin to be healed.
In W. H. Auden’s wonderful sequence of poems, “Horae Canonicae”—the title refers to the daily “hours” of monastic prayer—he describes the Crucifixion of Jesus and, immediately afterwards, what happens to the people who crucified him:
… our own wronged flesh
May work undisturbed, restoring
The order we try to destroy, the rhythm
We spoil out of spite: valves close
And open exactly, glands secrete,
Vessels contract and expand
At the right moment, essential fluids
Flow to renew exhausted cells …
What happens, in short, is the work of repair. Though we have crucified the Lord of All, God’s grace to us is manifest first in the ongoing renewal of our bodies. This is not the work of a biological machine, but a pure gift. If our spirits and wills can later be healed, that’s because our bodies are repairing themselves right now.
I think that’s what happens to me in the Frio River Canyon when I start breathing that air and walking those trails.
I’ve been to Laity Lodge many times now. It always teaches me about my own self-idolatry. Laity Lodge is a place of quiet and contemplation, a place of beauty and hospitality. And it turns out that these are precisely the gifts I need in order to be released, however temporarily, from my desperate need to control my life. I repair to the Canyon to be repaired.