Cast Out into the Deep

Listen to the quiet voice:
     Cast out into the deep...

Leave your striving on the surface
     hurry and stress
          worry and drivenness
               flurry and noise
                    circular trying and trying
                         pushing to exhaustion

Let go, give up
     abandon that mad hope
Sink into the deep
     like one almost drowned
          surrendering to a slow and silent descent
               entering a world apart
                    alone with your truest self
                    and the One who calls you thither

Now in the stillness
     emptiness begins to stir with life
          the deepest treasure
               the truest, purest, most precious fruits
                    that have been growing slowly, deeply, silently
                         all these years
                              through this troubled life

Now spread out your net
     rise slowly to the surface to share your riches
           with a gaunt world that seldom tastes 
           a deeper nourishment

by Celeste Boudreaux, September 2015

*** audio version of the poem***

When I was a kid, we spent our summers at a lake house, and every day we would go to the roped-off swimming area to swim. There was a little beach there and a floating raft from which we could do cannonballs into the water. It got scorchingly hot there in southeast Texas — so hot that the sand could literally burn the bottoms of our bare feet — so swimming was a welcome relief.

One of the things I liked to do was to sit in a cross legged position in the water, take a deep breath, then let myself sink in the water. I would let out my breath slowly, watching the bubbles rise up to the surface as my body lost its buoyancy and descended more and more. The deeper you went towards the muddy lake bottom, the cooler and darker and quieter everything became. All the drama and hubbub of children dunking and pushing each other, shouting for Mom to watch them, the splashes and car horns, receded until I was in a world all by myself.

When I started practicing centering prayer, an ancient Christian practice of silent prayer, this was the image that came back to me. I would just let myself sink away from the commotion of the surface world. When I would have the inevitable distracting thought, I would just release it to rise like a bubble away from me.

The poem, Cast Out into the Deep was inspired by the story from Luke 5:4-11 when Jesus said to Simon Peter: “Cast out into the deep and let down your nets.” Even though they had been fishing all night without catching a thing, when they were invited to try do so again by Jesus, they brought up such an abundance that it was more than they could even handle. This has been my experience with the practice of centering prayer. It may not have happened all at once or the first time I tried, but it has a cumulative effect when practiced regularly. It’s an effect of deeper peace and equanimity, perspective, connection to purpose, and creativity. It truly yields a bountiful catch.

Next post: The Raven

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