Wednesday, May 30, 2018

One Good Quote

Isn't it funny, how day by day nothing changes; but when you look back everything is different?  
C.S. Lewis

There is such a simple and sacred truth to what Lewis is saying above.  This morning, I got up and it was it has been the last several days as we reach "build-an-ark" levels of saturation.  I had my cereal and coffee, like every morning.  I talked with my wife about our plans for the day, nothing unusual there.  But, inside us, like a seed that slowly transforms and transitions, there is something at work.  As the poet says, "To trust in the slow work of the Spirit" day-by-day is the invitation.

Part of the ways we can train our brain, soul, heart, and our lives to pay attention to those millimeter movements of our lives.  We do this through silent meditation, through reading poetry (which has be done slowly letting the words sit/simmer), through listening to music, through taking walks outside disconnected from our phones, through breathing and be.  Often our first entry points through the doorway of reflections, as we pay attention to our minds/hearts/souls they can seem cluttered and chaotic.  It can seem like a thousand thought are shouting, "Looking, she is finally listening, everyone talk at once."  So, my brain starts darting, dashing off to suggest a sermon topic, what I need at the store, something I just said that I want to rewind because I regret, something I should/ought/have to do once I get done with this exercise of sitting still.

Sages who practice mindful meditation give the image of sitting on the bank of a river and your thoughts are like boats streaming by.  There is a temptation, even desire, to board all this boards.  But those who teach us mindfulness tell us to just observe.  "Okay, I need butter."  Let the thought go.  "Okay, I can preach on the video game Frogger"...then let it go.  It isn't easy, especially for my brain that then shouts, "You may forget this great idea!"  Seriously, a sermon Frogger would be great.  But to also trust that if that seed is going to sprout it is there in your mind roaming randomly about.

Sometimes after my meditation time, I do take a pen to write.  Other times I stretch and simply be.  I encourage you this week to start with five minutes of meditation.  You can do this any time of day.  Some meditate in the morning, others over lunch, still others at night.  You know your body/mind/heart/soul connection better than I, so you need to practice this invitation at a time that is going to be most meaningful for you.  Here is how I practice:

Take ten deep breaths.  I have learned that your exhale needs to be longer than the inhale to really calm your body.  I inhale to the count of three, exhale to the count of six or seven or even longer.
Next I try to just keep breathing.  It is amazing that something so unconscious can hold our attention for so long.
At some point I do a body scan.  Starting at the top of my head, I notice where the stress/strain is, usually in my shoulders or stomach.  I seek to breathe in peace/God's presence/love and breathe out, surrendering what is causing me to churn chaotically.  
Finally, I just sit breathing and being.

A few suggestions, I set a timer on my phone.  But, I would make sure the sound it makes at the end is one that is soothing.  Nothing harsher than having a fire alarm like buzzing bring you back to the world of sight and sound.  
I also don't judge if my meditation was better than yesterday.  I receive the time with a grace and like a detective going into a scene to see what is going on in the room.  In the end, I do start to notice those subtle shifts happening in my life.

I pray you will receive this suggestion and by practicing this even once, there might be more than a trace of God's grace.

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