Internal space. I have found it incredibly helpful to be aware of an internalised space- a locus of prayer and communion between the soul and God.
I meet God in the sacrifice of Mass very intimately it is true, but parish Mass is not always the most helpful space and time to meet God and to hear what He says. Noisy children, people shuffling and myriad other distractions make it hard sometimes to concentrate. The famous hymn ‘Dear Lord and Father’ speaks of a “still, small voice of calm”, and I can relate to that. I find God most readily in my own internalised space, in the form of a “still, small voice”. I count this space as a gift from God, transmitted to me via a learned Anglican priest and friend of mine who passed away some time past. Many years ago during lent, he spoke of one means by which he found the peace and calm to talk to God. He found visualising a space, and occupying it mentally, he moved himself away from the here-and-now and into a new time and place, calm, and free from the cares and worries which had a tendency to creep into his prayers otherwise. I could immediately identify with what he said, and began to develop this idea. Over time, this space has expanded and contracted, developing organically.
This space is where I mentally retreat to when I find prayer hard. In the act of imagining myself in another, vivid and even tangible space, I find I am indeed distanced from the petty concerns which hamper prayer. This place within has an entire topography of its own. It has rooms, corridors, open spaces, cloisters, courtyards and gardens. It is borne of memory maybe more than imagination and it is perhaps best described as a composite of those places which have most shaped my understanding of the divine.
Over the years it has concretised itself as a metaphysical space within me, which has become the place where God comes to meet me in prayer. It has always been a deeply personal thing- a matter of private devotional practice and nothing more, but a short while back, I wondered whether I might have something worth sharing in this method.
I began work on a book, which I am considering taking up again. I have been influenced very much in this endeavour by the writings of mystics (and theologians) from various faiths and traditions, but particularly my own- St Theresa of Avila, St Augustine, Anne Catherine Emmerich, The venerable Mary of Agreda and St John of the Cross to name but a few. In all of these writings I have found, both explicitly and implicitly, a sense of internalised space, prayer of the heart, holy encounters in the silence of our innermost being…
For this reason, I feel inspired myself, to put into words, what that space is to me and how I have used it. I shall offer it up, as the saying goes, and maybe in outlining my own path, others will find something of use in their own pilgrimage.