Meditation of the Heart (Yaconelli) Day 7

On the seventh day God rested from all the work that had been done (Genesis 2:2).

I’m considering the word “rest” today from the perspective of the ancient Christian tradition that says to pray is to rest. Yaconelli details rest as requiring a release from our work, plans, worries and activity. He writes “when we rest in prayer, we become open and receptive to God’s presence.”

I recall in my first semester of seminary, we were learning about the discipline of prayer.  Our leader told us that prayer is not always about asking for something; “it’s really wasting time with God”.  It’s about hanging out with God with no particular goal or agenda, but simply spending time in God’s presence.

A spiritual director once likened prayer time to my desire to just spend time with my kids.  We don’t have to be doing anything unique, just being together in the same room is good for me. She said, “don’t you think God would like to hang out in the same room with you?” (Duh-ope!)

Like some of my friends, I haven’t been good at a regular time of prayer but, ofSedona sitting up all things, my cat has helped me out in this regard.

While on my laptop (furiously writing seminary papers), my cat, Sedona, will often climb up onto my lap and cover my wrists Sedona on my lapwith her ample self.  I’ve tried to continue typing, but I can neither see over her girth nor lift her with my wrist to get my fingers on the right keys. So, I’ve taken to asking her “Oh, is it time for prayer?” We sit while I stroke her soft fur, enjoying that pleasure and extending the pleasure to being aware of God’s presence, attained not through thinking but through loving, as Yaconelli says.

Amazing grace opens its arms and lets us fall into its love.
Bidden, yearned for, woo’d and pursued
it beckons us all to come home.
(Fa Lane)

Psalm Poem – Evening Breeze

Evening Breeze
Fa Lane

A faint breeze cools my brow as I lay under the night blanket.

Its sweet scent tingles pleasure with day’s spent energy.

Lord, the day offered me opportunities and regretfully, I wasted time.

Forgive me for not using my resources well.

Holy One, let this evening breeze usher in freshness, release from regret, and inspired renewal.

As I sleep, fill my spirit with courage, insight and energy.

Beloved, blanket me with your mercy so I can share it in the new day.

Meditations of the Heart (Thurman) Day 12

golden pond and canoeToday’s entry: Rev. Thurman says that God perpetually calls us and urges us to renew both rest and work.  I think what he means is that God wants us to work and bring something to fruition, but also wants us to rest.  I’m not sure where play and pleasure fit in here but; I think they’re important too.

It seems to me that this concept, as laid out by Thurman, encourages workaholism.  If we’re either to work or to rest, and if we believe that work leads to fruition, then more work leads to more fruition, right?  And, that’s good, right? Or is that just an American philosophy?  What about rest?

Thurman does make clear that rest is necessary. Up to this point in his book of meditations, he’s been a strong advocate of having quiet time and enough time to be able to center down into a meditative state.  Here he writes “Even casual reflection would lead one to recognize that a very urgent function of the quiet time is to provide a breather for the spirit, opportunity for catching up, reorganization and re-evaluating the endless activities in which we are involved daily and hourly.”

NOW, he’s sounding like a 21st century fellow.  We are all interested in doing things, going places and doing new things. There are not a lot of people sitting on their decks or (gasp- front porches) shootin’ the breeze or chillin’.  Well, maybe on the weekends. But, I wonder how many people “PLAN” that… they actually book that time. – Cause otherwise they’d be given their precious time to someone else: work, chores, meetings, etc.

I grew up in the sixties and seventies with a dad who’d sit on the porch swing almost every evening.  Folks in our community would drive by and wave hello as he sat pondering and simply being in that space at that time.  I would love to do that, but I don’t think any neighbors would wave hello, much less come over for a brief chat.  It would be nice, though.

Rather, it seems that our jobs (and some of us have more than one), our civic meetings, our kids’ recreation and, house responsibilities keep us shuffling from one thing to the next.  We rest at night, dropping into bed after a full day.  Some of us fall asleep; some of us have wild minds that replay or rehearse events for hours.

To ask for the pace of the ‘good old days’ would be short sided because with that pace comes some of the ignorant behaviors we’ve done well to overcome. But I do agree with Thurman that we need to work and to rest. But, we also need to love, to uphold justice, to tender one another, to play, to encourage, to  argue respectfully, to find pleasure and, to provide pleasure.  I just worry that all the activities are too taxing and we’re not able to find rest within the effort.  It sounds like an oxymoron but I think its the alchemy that will save us.