All In My Head

sun on trail

I’ve started writing probably five different blogs over the past few weeks, but for the first time in my life, I’m having a hard time articulating my thoughts. I’m thinking in circles about ideas, trying to be relevant to things that are happening, but it has felt impossible. I’m far too slow of a thinker to stay on top of current events, and I would like to research ideas before writing all about them on the Internet, which is hard to do quickly. But I realized a change in myself on Sunday, a change that might have something to do with my difficulty writing, and so now I shall attempt to tackle this difficulty-inducing change in writing.


Easter Sunday was the first time I had been in church for a while. It’s been hard for me to transition away from the church I went to before I moved to Utah, so my “worship activities” have been more internal and individual. I’ve been reading a lot of spiritual books, trying to recreate that connection I’ve always felt, but something has changed. I haven’t been doing the best job keeping myself accountable; I think a lot, but as I am not actually a philosopher, not a lot comes from all my thinking. Anyway, I went to church for Easter, partially because I have never missed church on Easter and my Catholic guilt wouldn’t let me start this year, and partially because Easter is probably the most important holiday in the church (and my favorite one). I can’t honestly say I remember what the homily was about, but I do remember the moment when I noticed the change in myself. That happened almost immediately after communion.


A little background: ever since I was a child, I’ve used the time in church after taking communion to pray. I think I initially learned it from watching my father. It’s not a groundbreaking idea, many people do it, and I’ve always found something sacred about this time. You’ve just participated in communion, and now have a quiet moment while everyone around you is either in his or her own quiet moments or still in line to take communion. It’s a moment where everyone is together, yet everyone is alone, in the most beautiful of ways. We all take communion, but separately, individually. We all kneel (if you’re Catholic), but in our own space. We all sing, but we join in at different times. It’s a very out-of-body experience for me because it’s one of the few times in my life where I simultaneously feel like an individual and feel like part of the group. That happens very rarely, in my experience. But in the few minutes after communion, I can feel both, and I can feel whole.


As I’m kneeling (or sitting) there, sometimes I pray with words, but often I just sit with a quiet mind and feel the community around me. Also, I hate every word in that sentence because I don’t know how to explain it to you. I think it is the only time in my life when I can successfully turn off my internal dialogue and just exist where I am. And more often than not, I feel this tremendous burst of love in my heart, both love for the people around me and external love for me. I’m not the kind of person who feels overwhelming bursts of love, either for others or from others. But this is one of the times I do, for whatever reason.


At some point in those few moments after communion, I had a small epiphany. You probably don’t know, because you don’t live in my head, but I normally have an ongoing, verbose inner dialogue. It very rarely stops, unless I’m focusing extremely hard on something, like reading an engaging book or climbing a particularly difficult route. I started a journal almost as soon as I could write words longer than “at,” just to get some of my inner thoughts and words out of my head. But I realized yesterday that this quiet moment felt much more natural than usual. It took longer for my thoughts to intervene and take over the moment again. And when I realized this, I realized that I have been living like this for a while now. And by “this,” I mean I haven’t been living in my head as much as I used to. I’ve been living out of my heart, and this is the point in the blog, I should warn, that will become strange because this is uncharted territory for me.


At some point in the past year, I stopped experiencing God and love as words and ideas, but started experiencing them as feelings.


[Not that I have never “felt God” or “felt love,” my experiences are normally more cerebral, not embodied. As an avid bibliophile and logophile, I’m not quite as equipped to process moments outside the realm of language. But here I am, attempting to write what I may never successfully convey.]


How to put into words a feeling quite beyond the constraints of language? It’s as if my self, whatever makes me “Arianna,” has moved from my head down into my heart. Maybe my head isn’t the only one in charge anymore. Whatever happened, it is the freest and happiest I have felt in years. Not to ponder doubtfully, but rather to trust fully and commit. This is getting scary.


Okay. It has taken me four days of writing and thinking to finally figure out what it was. I noticed the complete absence of loneliness from my heart, and realized that it had been gone for quite some time. I don’t know exactly how this relates to my inability to write, I’m not sure what you’ll get out of reading this, and I’m not even sure what my overall point is, except that I think I understand what Henri Nouwen means when he writes about silence in The Way of the Heart. But I think I’ll expand on that more another time. I need to think about it some more. Back to the head.