Truly in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest (Quran 13.28)
In the last week I have begun reading the book Out of Darkness Into Light by Jamal Rahman, Kathleen Schmitt Elias and Ann Holmes Redding. The book gives a wonderful introduction to spiritual guidance found in the Quran with reflections from the Jewish and Christian Faith provided by MS Elias and MS Redding respectfully. The three faiths Islam, Jewish, Christian are siblings and we share more than just a connection with Abraham, we share hearts.
As a Christian I am well versed in my own tradition, practices and beliefs but reading Jamal’s writings and MS Elias’ writings has opened up interesting doors into the shared space of our three faiths. One of those doors is called Spiritual Practice. I have always known many of our “Christian” spiritual practices have their roots in other faiths, yet as I read I am finding a second and third dimension in them. The practice I would like to highlight is a specific type of journaling Jamal calls “sacred writing.
I have practiced journaling for many years and have done something similar to the practice of sacred writing called “free writing or journaling where you write what comes to mind, letting my hand freely put on paper whatever comes from my heart. Sometimes there is an intention question sometimes not but always there is no planning of what I will write. Sacred writing is very similar but Jamal has beautifully paired it with the intention of going deeper into the heart of self when you’re sad, angry or in crisis, however, this is a good practice to use at anytime. Here is Jamal’s description:
“Start with the phrase, “Right now I am feeling” … and allow yourself to express your feelings and fears as fully as possible. After you finish, invoke the mercy of God and Make an intention to connect with your higher self. Start by writing. “I have heard your sighs, beloved one, and I want to tell you …” and continue writing, allowing your higher self to express itself fully.” (pg 55)
I have found that writing in this manner can produce insights to my own behavior and helps me find meaning in events or trials I could never have seen. One benefit to this method is by putting feelings onto paper gets them out of my body and I see clearer and become filled with an inner peace.
May the Great Spirit enter your heart as you pour out your fears and doubts onto a simple piece of paper. Amen
 Rahman, Jamal, Kathleen Schmitt Elias, Ann Homes Redding; Out of Darkness Into Light, Spritual Guidance in the Quran with Reflections from Christian and Jewish Sources, Morehouse Publishing, New York, NY, 2009
“. . . too often we resist the urge to turn our hearts to God, for this might entail some serious and inconvenient changes in our lives.” Jamal Rahman, Out of Darkness into Light
This past week has been interesting. You see I am coming to a place where I have to let go of some goals and turn my resulting life, that will be, over to God. Now I am a stubborn person, and I LIKE being in control of my journey, but, I am discovering I control nothing. Nothing in my life is predictable, except when I surrender my will to God.
The above words of Jamal Rahman really hit home for me, because surrendering to God does mean my life changes dramatically. The number one in my life can no longer be me, but God. It means everything I do take’s on a sacred attribute because I’m not doing it for myself; I am doing nothing, because you see everything is for and through God.
When I give up and let go of the reins I am clutching in my white knuckled hand my life focus changes from “it’s all about me” to it is all about what God wants of me; doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8). While Micah’s words sound simple they are not easy and I am consciously, continually, moving into them bit by painful bit.
One of my first steps in surrendering to God began with (or I should say begins with) a practice of examining the unease I have with my life and then holding it to as I find the root cause. I allow myself to kind to me as I acknowledge and hold the energy the cause has over me, offering it up in prayer for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
So I offer Surrender as our spiritual practice of the week. When you feel something is wrong in your life do not ignore or deny it. Instead sit quietly and hold the feeling in your heart, listen to it and search from where it comes. Then as you hold the feelings in your heart pray to God for strength and mercy, asking for God to walk with you as you go deeper into the feeling and surrender the cause to God in prayer. Over time as you repeat this practice you may discover your connection and relationship with God growing ever stronger.
Surrender may be difficult but not impossible when you remember the words of Jesus who said “do not be afraid, for I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:10).