Rich Paxson

The morning light is hazy gradually revealing the details of the Hawthorn tree just outside the window while leaving the maples across the yard dark, gray-green and indistinct. I’m writing this from the room in my house I planned to describe as my ‘storeroom,’ As I began writing, I had no idea of sharing what follows.

Where is my “storeroom?” At first, I thought of a physical place, but my storeroom can be anywhere. It proceeds from a particular physical/mental state that, over the years, has come to feel familiar. Now is the first time, however, that I’ve connected my ‘storeroom state’ with Jesus’s admonition to retreat there to pray.

I feel utterly quiet in the storeroom. I feel empty, hollow inside. My storeroom state, in which I can only be present, or not, is empty, and yet there is ‘looking out.’ There is seeing that simultaneously proceeds from my eyes and returns through them, which I do not control. All things occurring within the range of this vision are equally valuable, not right or wrong. I recognize their existence, and yet somehow it is not I who recognizes just the experience of recognition, no more or less. I am not speaking of being controlled by someone or something else. No, my experience of ‘storeroom’ is a reassuring presence, exactly of what I cannot say. I wonder whether this presence only becomes present to the extent that I seek stillness. Does it speak an invisible, unhearable language known viscerally if not cognitively but only to the extent that I allow the voice into the empirical, day-to-day of normal life?

I wrote this response over a couple of days. When I first reviewed it, it sounded affected but also familiar and right. I decided to share it because, while it may be rough, I think it is a congruent attempt to describe something true for me, something I’ve known but denied over the years. By spending more time in the storeroom, I hope to get to know who I am when there, Who finds me in the storeroom and what is on offer to bring along when I leave the storeroom.