I have for the past few years enjoyed a deeply rewarding contemplative prayer life. I could spend long stretches of time in quiet reverie with a God who expected nothing of me except my presence. I would let the silence engulf me and focus on nothing except God at the center of my prayer. No other form of prayer, save The Eucharistic Liturgy ever gave me more communion with God.
I speak of my contemplative prayer in the past tense because just over a month ago I began to experience tinnitus in my left ear. I have no idea of the origin of my infliction, but from everything I have read since there isn’t much I can do to treat the condition outside of herbal treatments. I will have to learn to live with it, is the advice of most experts.
I can live with the ringing in my ear 99% of my life. It doesn’t bother me when I am driving, or watching television, talking on the phone, having a conversation, playing my flute, or singing with my church choir. I have a little trouble when I am first trying to fall asleep, but I have always had trouble with sleep, and have used a special pillow that connects to my iPod and plays music at a very low volume to lull me to sleep. I now have to sleep on my left side with my tinnitus ear buried in the pillow, or take a sleep aide to help me relax enough to forget that the noise is there.
The other time when the noise bothers me is when I am trying to pray in contemplative silence. I will never have that all enveloping silence again, and for now it has altered my ability to reach that center space where I can block out everything else and only God resides. I am distracted by the ringing in my left ear and nothing I try brings me back to the center.
God has sent this ringing to me for a reason, and when I find out how to adapt my prayer life to accommodate the new sound of my silence contemplation will become a form of prayer I can practice again. Until then I am blessed to have a Church tradition filled with other prayer forms from which I can draw.
What is God trying to teach me?
What would you do in my predicament?
What is your favorite form of prayer?