Wishing you much Peace and Joy in the New Year and Season of Christmas.
-We have Indoor Voices and Outdoor Voices. Indoor Play and Outdoor Play.
-Think about what you do indoors that you don’t do outdoors. What you do outdoors that you don’t do indoors.
-Think about how certain times of the year have more outdoor things and certain times of the year have more indoor things. This is an “indoor things” time of year. Doesn’t mean no outdoor to balance that indoor, but more indoor time than, say, in July, when it’s more outdoor season. It means that this just might be the perfect time of year to focus on that indoor life…not just indoor play, but indoor life: Being Vs. Doing. A new year, a fresh start, a quiet time of year.
-Do with God and Church? Ever notice in the quieter times we feel closer to our spiritual side, we feel more connected to God (whatever that means to you)? Ever notice when you feel more calm and connected, it’s easier to do the Doing/outdoor life? Less Rushy. Less Messy. Less Crazy. More…functional…
–Everyone has a different way of finding their Inner Side/Inner Life. People do it differently…think of different ways?….no right or wrong way.
Walking, Hiking, Sitting, Reading, Creating, Sipping Tea, Breathing, Praying, Pondering, Devotions…How do you find Quiet, Inner Side, Inner Life:
–This Week: notice what times of days it is easiest for you to remember God’s Presence? Maybe even what you are doing that makes you feel more connected…
How do we cultivate Peace? How do we become instruments of Peace? Where do we begin? Perhaps a New Year is a good time to think about Beginnings and ReBeginning.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
I love repetition, but I’m guilty of trying to make things continually fresh and new and exciting. I feel guilty when I repeat favorite prayers, poems, readings, and hymns. I worry that people will think I’m cheating. I also don’t memorize things very well, so repetition is both “good for me” and also very frustrating. I’m fascinated by people who can quote scripture and then the book, chapter, and verse it’s from. Sometimes, I’m tempted to remember what people say they are quoting and check it out to see if people are just making things up. Then I remember, it doesn’t matter. And besides, I’m sure my reasons for “finding out” aren’t anchored in kind and gentle, peaceful reasonings, but to make myself feel better. And besides that, I won’t remember the book, chapter, and verse in five minutes anyway.
But when I’m settled in that place, you know the Inner-er Landscape of the Inner Life, our Indoor Play Place, and not in the guilt, more guilt, feeling like I’m cheating, or being tempted by the un-kind, un-gentle, un-peaceful, make-myself-feel-better doings, I feel that repetition is a Gift.
Imagine how it would be to really steep oneself in one, single very beautiful and inspiring passage. Maybe with a mug of wonderful tea. The Beatitudes. The Lord’s Prayer. The Serenity Prayer. PAUSE. How beautiful to have those words steeping and washing over you time after time after time? Maybe for an entire year!
One of my favorite teachers, Eknath Easwaran, encourages just that. He says to find your one anchoring passage to use every single day. When in doubt (for those of us who struggle to choose and commit to Just One Thing), he says: use the Prayer of Saint Francis. PAUSE. An experience every single day with these words will change you and change your life. For the better. PAUSE. Imaging being “washed” every day in those words of peace? Maybe for an entire year!
This is a time of the Inner (indoor) practices and a good time to Begin. Sometimes, those indoor, Quiet, practices are harder than the outer practices. PAUSE. Turning inward is scary. When things are Quiet, when we’re Quiet and alone, our own inner ‘demons’ rise up. Thoughts show up (those are our ‘demons’). Good. Bad. Distracting. Messy. Ugly. Awful. Mean. Sad-filled. Uncomfortable. Demanding. The list is endless.
We wonder if we’re “doing it right”. Sometimes, “the formal practice” of Stillness can be overwhelming. I’m “praying”. I’m “meditating”. I’m “Contemplating”. I’m in “Devotions”. Then, those thoughts come in: is this the way I’m “supposed” to do this? Gosh, this isn’t the way I’m supposed to be doing this. I’ve got to be doing something wrong. Nothing’s happening.
Those “demons” again. Then we’re convinced we’re not doing it right, because we’re distracted by…well, EVERYTHING. So just Sit. Sit. No need to call it anything else. Just sit.
Because, how do we pray? We pray in Quiet, with the Doors Closed, in Secret. PAUSE. All those labels only matter…to other people and to that loud voice within that wants to feel “accomplished” instead of connected. So, just close the door and Sit. You can’t Sit wrong.
Let the company come. The “demons” of thoughts. Because if we Sit long enough (whatever we call it), things Quiet without any work at all. Somethings else shows up… The Inner Voice, Grace, God. Answers becomes clear. Truths. Words sink in. Those words of Saint Francis:
Lord make me an instrument of your Peace.
We become peaceful and as we know, peacefulness takes work and time and patience. And Inner Work, whatever you want to call it.
Maybe the Saint Francis prayer is too long. Other words can make a nice “anchor” to come back to. Other passages that resonate with you. Or simply:
Sit. Just because. Why and how and having goals, “supposed” to, and what’s “right” is sometimes like standing on the street corner. We need to prove something or get somewhere. I pray. I meditate. I Contemplate. Look at me. PAUSE. Even alone, the passerby is your own ego, proud. Proud of praying, meditating…proud of self. Comparing one’s self to others. Maybe it’s not glorious to go into your room, shut the door, and Sit. But maybe it’s Glorious.
If peace begins with each of us. In our own hearts, how do we cultivate more Peace? We create time outside of the busy, full, and distracted. We find ways to connect with the Inner Life. Quiet. Peace and Quiet. Connection (to something more than the people occupying the streets of our life and the streets of our minds). To Grace.
Not just belief and faith and leaving all the work to God, but loving God enough to take the time to go to our room and shut the door and cultivate that Inner Life. To Be Still, so that when we go out into the world to do the work of Peace, we are peaceful ourselves. In our hearts connected to Grace.
There are many ways to Be Still, as mentioned in our Time with the Young People. This is one way. Finding your way, takes Quiet…and this is a good way to begin to cultivate that Quiet and Discover.
How can you better connect to the peace in your heart and to the Peace of God?
How can you better balance the inner place with the outer work?
We have been gifted a body to act in this world. Why a mind and heart able to learn and grow into knowledge and then to wisdom? Why are we spiritual beings in a human body? Why does God show up most prominently in the Quiet and in the Steady Flow of simply Being?
So that we may know Grace (Peace) in our being and Do God’s Work (Peace) in our world.