I think I've found it, or solved it, the elusive niggle that something's not quite right, that I'm out of sync with something. It is hard to quantify, explain, put into words, other than to say that praying felt like "shouting into a concrete bucket" to quote the inimitable Adrian Plass (I think), that I was somehow out of sorts, distant from God.
My answer to this "it" is as simple as the word, I realised yesterday that I keep trying to do several things at once: multitasking. Now this is fine, a useful ability, but a tiring one and not always the greatest in a relationship, not if the multitasking stops you from fully focussing on who you're trying to relate to. It's like sitting in the same room with someone, talking, but never catching their eye, never looking at them, hearing most of the words, but not bringing them fully to focus inside your mind and missing all the body language, emotion and tone. That's what I've been doing with God. I need to stop and spend some time with Him completely, not doing anything else, just being with Him.
This isn't to say there isn't some value in Brother Lawrence's ideas about being with God all the time through everything you do in the day, but it helps if at some point in that day you stop and relax and spend some time just being together. Simple though the solution seems, I doubt I'll sort this out overnight, I spent some time just listening to songs, singing along, 'worshipping', bathing in Him, revelling in who He is and what He has done. (While we're here, I know that everything we do is supposed to be worshipping Him etc. etc. and that worship can take many different forms, it's just that today that's how I was worshipping Him. There's something in music, in singing alone (or even better together) about and to our God, that is ancient and good and holy and biblical.) Anyhow, meanders aside, it was good, refreshing, I know feelings aren't everything, but it did feel good. Next time maybe we'll read the Bible together?
I've been listening to "Blue like Jazz" that my friend Nic recommended to me (I think it was her... correct me if I'm wrong), which I got from audible. It's interesting, thought provoking, needs digesting, will need to be listened to multiple times, or maybe I'll get the book and read it 'properly'. At first it felt a bit odd, drifting, just this guy's thoughts, but gradually themes have emerged and interesting ideas with them. It helped me to realise how I was dividing myself from God and not paying attention properly, not engaging with Him. That's valuable enough in itself to get from a book.
Tonight it's made me feel a bit doubtful of myself again, it doesn't take much to make me doubt myself. He's started talking about how we're not meant to be alone, which I know - all too well, and about community. How we could stop feeling lonely if we lived in community - shared places to live and lived together as a church, as people, how damaging loneliness is. He makes the solution seem so simple, get off your backside and go engage with people, talk to them, listen to them, humble yourself and be open for them. But what if you can't? What if you can't physically make it to see people? What if you can't make it to their meetings and groups? What are you supposed to do then?
Is it my fault that I'm sick and can't get out and talk to people and start creating community? Am I just not trying hard enough? Trying hard enough... those words come up so often, they make me worry so much, like things would be better if I tried harder. But really, tried harder at what? When are these words lies and when is it true? When do I need to try harder? Why? I know I need to see more people, more brothers and sisters especially. Sometimes I need to make more effort, but there's days and weeks and months where I don't have the effort to give. What then?
So I feel like a failure again and try to remind myself of grace, again.