My dad was a pastor when I was a kid, so I occasionally found myself waiting in an empty church while he finished up whatever he was working on back in his office. Sometimes I’d go to the gym and throw a ball against the wall over and over and over again. Sometimes I’d walk through the tiny, empty bookstore and stare longingly at the Chronicles of Narnia box set I would eventually by for $11.96. Sometimes I’d just sit on the curb outside.
But the times that have left me with the most poignant memories are when I would walk into the empty church sanctuary. Sanctuary. A place that provides safety or protection. I would walk on the thick carpet, up the aisle between the two sides, all the way to the front. There was a communion table there, and the pulpit, and the piano up on the stage.
I wish I could tell you I did something particularly holy in those moments, but I didn’t. I stretched out on the floor and stared up at the ceiling, and the dim light that fell through the tall windows illuminated all the little specks of dust floating through the air. I wondered about the universe and my place in it. I watched each speck, each little planet, as it came and went in and out of those beams of light, and I made up stories about them and their inhabitants.
Then, far off, from a distant galaxy, I heard my dad’s voice calling my name.
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Seth Haines releases a new book today, Coming Clean, and in it he shares a similar experience as a young boy in Texas climbing into the mesquite trees. He writes that it was the first place he remembers hearing God speak to him, but that as he got older the reality of that voice dimmed.
This, I think, is perhaps the greatest challenge we will face as adults, and perhaps the most important: How will we rediscover that beautiful childhood imagination and belief that allowed us to hear the voice of God while sitting in the thin arms of a mesquite tree, or lying on the plush carpet of an empty church sanctuary? Where has this voice gone?
Maybe the voice hasn’t gone anywhere. Maybe the problem lies in our ability to listen, to hear.
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Seth’s book is unique because it gives you the feeling that you are traveling right into someone’s very soul. The title might be Coming Clean, but it could just as easily be Rediscovering the Still, Small Voice. I prefer the title he chose, but I hope you won’t avoid the book because you don’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol, or because your particular brand of addiction is less vilified than its chemical cousins.
As Seth has said many times, we are, all of us, trying to come clean from something. This book will help you see what it is you’re trying to shed, and it will also show you the beauty that waits even in the shadows of recovery.
* * * * *
I think again on what I wrote earlier, that “I wish I could tell you I did something particularly holy in those moments” when I simply got down on the carpet and stared at the dust. But now I wonder if maybe that isn’t one of the holiest things we can do.
Stop. Breathe. See. Listen. Wait.
I highly recommend Coming Clean. I think it will help you do all of those things, and then some.