I am reminded again that relationships with God and others take practice.
When I was a child and took music lessons my parents would constantly prod me to practice. Any musician or athlete knows that it takes lots of practice, sometimes tedious practice to develop any sense of ease and freedom in playing. Being a musician I know this and only wish that I had spent more time in practice! We may initially resent our parents or others who lovingly prod and push us to be the best that we can be. In retrospect we may find that they have given us a great gift!
I know it takes lots of practice to develop a talent, but why is it that I think my relationship with God and others should just come automatically? Those skilled at relationships take time working at them. How often do I take the time to resolve an issue in a relationship? Sometimes we just go on, never really talking through or resolving the issue. In terms of our relationship with God, it also takes practice. They don’t call it “spiritual practice,” or “practicing faith” for nothing! But sometimes I get so tired of practicing – taking the time to meditate and pray whether alone or with others. It seems like such a waste of time. There’s so much else to be done!
It is only in daily practice that I gain any skill, depth and freedom as a musician or an athlete and it takes daily practice to gain that same skill, depth and freedom in loving relationships, whether with people or with God. What practices do I have in place that develop my relationship with God and others?
Ever since I was a child I’ve had repeated dreams where I can fly. I literally just bend my legs and lean upward and I fly. At first there is a bit of an unsure feeling, but I quickly get the hang of it and delight in my ability to fly!
A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to attend a day long retreat/teaching with the Dalai Lama. He spoke of meditation within our current frenzied cultural context as a source of peace, focus and something that engenders compassion. He also spoke about the endless chatter that we all have going on in our minds, whether or not we are aware of it. He said: “Who wouldn’t want a break from all that every now and then!”
The other night I had another dream that I was able to fly. As always I woke up feeling sad that it was a dream and that I really can’t fly. Yet, for some reason, this particular dream of flying began to get connected with my meditation. Meditation is a way to fly on this side of life; it’s a taste of the total freedom and total weightlessness that we will experience – both a psychological weightlessness and a physical weightlessness. When one meditates, the deeper we go, the more unaware of our body and mind we are and, in a sense, we begin to fly! Some even say we get more in contact and at one with everything that is around us – because, as physicists say, everything that exists is simply wave energy vibrating at a certain frequency. This creates matter. When we meditate I believe we are in touch with this Energy (capital intentional, i.e., God) at more fundamental levels and so we begin to experience a freedom from this particular body and a unity with all that exists, all Energy – and in this sense, we fly!
Jesus said “the kingdom is at hand,” it’s here! What a blessing and what a relief that we can begin to experience the kingdom right here and now. I believe I can fly!
When I am connected to my Source, taking the time to pray, meditate and read all of a sudden it seems that life begins to flow, take shape and my work is given wings. Life takes off. Conversely, when I am not connected, I am like a hampster in a cage that runs and runs and gets nowhere – fast.
“God is able to make every grace abundant for you.” (See 2Corinthians 9: 6-10).
I have of late been taking some risks. At times I have been frightened, but I have to believe that, if what I am doing is in the flow of Divine grace – God will provide – and provide ABUNDANTLY. The important thing is that I stay connected and then, just do it.
This past weekend I was talking to a friend who is very much into fitness. She is hot to say the least! Her upper arms are like a fine sculpture. OK, lest you think I’ve gone the other way, I’d really like her upper arms, but on a guy! On to my point. I told her that I really need to get back into my exercise routine. I said I would do it as soon as this transition in my life is over and in place. She looked at me and said: “Why wait? Do it now!”
Why do I think that I don’t have the time to take care of myself in the midst of busy transition? The reality is that if I don’t take care of myself, consequences loom. Already I feel the pain of acid in my stomach as worry consumes me, a pain that would work itself out with some stress reducing exercise!
Is there something in your life that you’re putting off until the “right time comes?” In reality, there is no right time. Now is the right time. Go for it! . . . And pray that I can too!
When I write, I usually go to Pandora.com and turn on some light music. I find it soothing and inspiring to write with some soft music in the background.. This morning for some reason, Pandora wouldn’t load. I tried several times and then gave up. Just as I gave up, I began to “hear” the silence. I looked out my window and saw the overcast sky and the snow gently falling. I was reminded of the silence of winter. If you’ve ever walked in the woods after a snowfall, you know what I mean. There is a silence that is palatable.
Instead of fighting the silence I welcomed it and find it soothing to my soul as I write this meditation. I am again reminded of the importance of listening to the silence. Far from being a void, there is a fullness in silence. It blesses the spirit in ways that a plethora of sound and sight simply cannot. It is the silence, after all, that makes sound itself possible! And it is in the silence that Divine presence is most fully found. “Be still and know that I am God.”
It is also in the silent spaces between our thoughts that God is to be found. When we are able to silence the chatter of the ego mind within, we open ourselves to a space that is eternal and abundant. This is the place of creative energy. It’s no wonder that when our lives are simply a barrage of activity, of running from this thing to the next, it’s no wonder that we begin to feel a lack of energy and our zest for life diminishes.
This season brings with it much activity. Social gatherings, increased traffic, running around to buy gifts, plays, school activities, final exams, decorating, baking, cooking, etc. All of this sometimes leaves us exhausted by the time the Holidays actually arrive. In the midst of such madness, it’s all the more important to take time in silence. It is in this silence that the sights and sounds of this season will then come alive.
Presence: Getting Connected
Ever wonder if you were on the right path? Ever feel like you’re off the path? I know when I feel off the path. It’s in those times that I need to pause and take time to be still, to get connected again. If I am not taking that time, the teacher seems to disappear. When I do take the time, the teacher appears. Almost by instinct I begin to know what to do, which way to go and life begins to take on meaning again.
It’s like life with a Partner. Life goes on, we get distracted by daily, mundane tasks and one day goes on the next. If we don’t intentionally take time to communicate or simply be present to our Partner, the relationship gets disconnected, not only for our Partner, but something within ourselves just isn’t quite right. When we take the time to communicate and be present, the path reveals itself and life deepens.
“With your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, while from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears: ‘This is the way. Walk in it.’” (See Isaiah 30: 19-21, 23-26)
Feeling disconnected? Sometimes just taking some time to simply be present to God and/or others makes a big difference. And remember, even when we take time to be present, it doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily going to “feel” connected right away. The important thing is that we take the time to be present. Period.
Perhaps the best present we could give ourselves and others is presence.
To those who regularly read and reflect with this blog, my apologies for not writing for a few days. I was a bit under the weather and am now on the mend.
Wow. Can you believe it’s Advent? Christmas is just around the corner. There’s something about this change of season that gives us an opportunity to pause, to change. Something different is happening. Life doesn’t feel as ordinary. Music changes, decorating is done, the house is re-arranged and gifts are thought about and made or purchased. Relationships which have gone unattended suddenly find a place of connection. For some reason, during this season, someone we haven’t been in touch with for a very long time comes to mind and we call and connect.
Advent is about making connections. It’s about connecting to those deeper, silent places within ourselves that perhaps have been unattended. It’s about not only putting our houses in order, but about putting our inner houses in order. It’s about making connections with people through gatherings, dinners, lunches and phone calls.
In the midst of the frenzy that can also attend this season, it’s important to attend most fully to the connections within ourselves, with the Divine and with others. If it’s just about a frenzy of running here and there, without a sense of inner and interpersonal grounding, we will find ourselves disconnected.
What are the connections that you want to make this Advent? How do you want to grow and change?