Thursday, January 10, 2008

Enjoying the Calm.

I'm enjoying the calm right now. No papers to write, no presents to buy or decorations to hang. Just the ordinary stresses of life -- laundry, dirty dishes and floors that need to be swept.

I would have loved to have a "pajama day" with the kids, but school is in session. How come after Christmas break, I need a break? (I know, it goes with the job.) There is just something soothing about the normal routine. Get the kids off to school, then I get coffee or hot tea, do some spiritual exercises at 9:00, prayer around 9:30, meditate on something or another at 10:00. Pet the cat, light a candle. Nice and warm and fuzzy. The silence is soothing; so is the "activity" (even if it isn't very "active.")

I've never really blogged about my prayer life; it's something I hold very close and I really don't talk about much, but I have had a couple of people ask so here it is.

I try to use a centering prayer, based on something like the Lectio Divina. I've practiced deep prayer methods for so long, that they come very easily to me most of the time. At times of deep distress it's not so easy; the practice of prayer when you are NOT in deep distress will strengthen your prayer life so that when you are deeply distressed, prayer is easier.

I find it doesn't take the effort to enter into a deep prayer now-a-days as it did several years ago. Contemplative prayer does not come easily to our society. We are so used to filling ourselves up with things -- information or food or whatever. However contemplative prayer is more about emptying ourselves.

I start with some sort of Word. It can be a long section of scripture or short or it can be a poem or a song. A particular favorite from the Hebrew Scriptures is Ecclesiastes and from the New Testament are the books of John and Romans. I hold the verse in my mind and repeat it a couple of times, waiting for a phase of word to "pop out" (lack of a better term) at me. I take that Word or phrase as an "action" from God. (Words really do fail at this.) I hold that Word and yield to that Word. It becomes the Word for the rest of the morning and then I stop thinking for a while. If I think of another Word, it's like starting over -- and I've failed to stop thinking. But it happens and if it happens then it's important to pay attention to where I wander. I just sit and breathe with my eyes closed thinking of the word. Sometimes I can just bring my thoughts back to the Word.

After a while I will begin to itch or tighten up in places. I will get a compulsion to move -- but I don't. I just sit and relax all my muscles and breathe. After the prayer time is finished, I will open my eyes and sit in silence for a while. I will then think and pray for people or places that have been laying heavy on my heart.

So that's it. I'm sure that I have made it as clear as mud, but it's not a thing you can describe with words -- you have to do it for it to make sense. And it took me a long time to figure it out. I also will use visualizations at time and build "schemes" to hold prayer, but that discussion is for another time....

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