The executive and the hermit
Brennan Manning tells the story of an executive who went to see a hermit for spiritual direction. The executive was overwhelmed with the demands of life. It seems that everyone wanted a piece of him – his company, his family, his church, younger executives, customers. Amidst the demands of life, he had lost himself. His prayers became flat. The more he tried, the harder it was to accomplish intimacy with God.
The hermit listened to the executive tell of his struggle, and then recessed into the darkness of his cave. He emerged with a basin and water, saying to the executive, “Watch as I pour the water into the basin.” The executive peered into the water. The hermit called his attention to the turbulence of the water as it rushed into the basin, spinning and splashing around the sides of the basin. But in time, the water began to level itself, moving methodically back and forth across the basin. Soon, the water was still. As the executive peered in, the hermit asked, “What do you see?” The executive said, “I see myself.” The hermit responded, “This is your life. And so your turbulence will recede as you still yourself before the Lord.”
Lent invites us to become still, but our deepest fear is often this: that we might be alone with the person we most dread being alone with – ourselves. Sometimes it is easier to choose the turbulence over the reality of the person we see reflected back in the still water. But if we sit still long enough, we may actually hear the whisper of the One who says, “I love you, warts and all. Come out of hiding. You are my beloved. “