Circles on a still pond

Oh my!  It’s been about six weeks since I have posted anything, and that’s not supposed to happen for a consistent blog.  Part of my hiatus was caused by the Holy-Week-Easter effort. Then came the pastor’s post-Easter exhaustion and inertia.  Then Rick and I became preoccupied with moving our camping trailer to a permanent seasonal site next to a hiking area and state park that we enjoy. Then….well, I could give many more reasons, but the honest-to-goodness truth is this:  I haven’t taken the prayerful silent listening time I need to center and be still before God.  Instead, when I sit down for my morning prayer meditation, my body is fidgity, my thoughts are restless, my mind chatters, the internet beckons, my feet want to walk, and, before I know it, it’s time to shower, pack a lunch and go to the office.  After many years I know there are shallow seasons like this. But when a soul is shallow, there is not much to write to about.

So, since I am posting, what happened?

Yesterday, I spent time with my spiritual guide and decided to admit to my restlessness.  Every pastor needs such a person to keep one humble and honest. It helps to be held accountable. Then this morning, when I was supposed to be silent, I read the blog of a colleague in New Zealand.  See how far the mind can wander?  But what a coincidence (?) that Bishop Kelvin Wright’s post is about getting back to his own spiritual practice of centering prayer after a month of traveling/walking around his diocese!  His writing reminds me of why I make an effort to be still and silent, even when my schedule and my chattering mind try to convince me it is a waste of time.  He writes:

The main benefits of meditation don’t come when you are actually doing it. Sure, there is often a sense of restful stillness and there are the physical rewards that accrue from having at least a short time in the day with no stress and all the systems of my body able to go about their jobs unhindered by my usual ceaseless mental preoccupations. But it’s later that the real advantages appear: when my mind seems clearer and my reactions seem less fractured. My Holy Spirit time is 3 in the morning: the time when I lie awake and my best ideas pop out of the ether into consciousness. When I am meditating regularly those lovely sessions at the darkest point of the night are clearer, deeper, stronger, and give me far more practicable ideas.  

Meditation requires effort. At the moment, when I am pleased to be once again reaping the benefits of Centering Prayer, it is easy to start each day in the dark and stillness, but I know that sooner or later the day will come when sitting in my study early in the morning will seem a chore; or that one day soon, after ten minutes on my knees a cup of coffee will seem like a more urgent priority than another half hour of keeping still. It’s on those days that my practice will seem to be pure hard work, but paradoxically, it is on those days that it will be effecting the greatest change in me.

Unlike my colleague, my Holy Spirit time is not 3 in the morning, although that is sometimes a good reading hour for me if I can’t get back to sleep.  However, if I am practicing daily quiet listening prayer (centering prayer), I do find that seemingly random conversations or something I might read or situations that I may experience throughout the day can more frequently and clearly seem full of God’s activity and insight.  It is on a still pond that the movements of the Holy Spirit can be seen most clearly.  And, yes, that is when there is likely to be greater change occurring in me.  Maybe blog writing will become a bit easier as well, although all these good results are not why one practices prayerful listening to God.

Then why practice centering prayer?  Basically, for the love of God.   The human heart being what it is, rather fickle and wayward when it comes to matters of the soul and love of God, then any benefit of a prayer practice must rely more on the grace of God than on our efforts.

So with God’s grace, I will have something to write about again before six more weeks go by…much sooner, I hope.

Comments

  1. Nice to note the similarities in the path we’re treading (literally as well as metaphorically) Elaine.