maybe we can learn to trust...

Most mornings start with ample amounts of tea, silence and reading. I'm no "Road Runner, Baby" when the day begins. I can party hearty late into the "Midnight Hour" but prefer to ease into existence slowly when "Morning Has Broken." Like Taj Mahal sings, "I was built for comfort, baby, I ain't built for speed."

At some point, and it seems different nearly every morning, I spend a little time in quasi-traditional prayer. I use the British Jesuits on-line resource, "Pray As You Go" for a bit of focused trusting, gentle music and contemplation on a passage of Scripture. Henri Nouwen writes in a book amassed from his classroom notes on the art of spiritual direction that "creating a space for God in our lives takes time and commitment."

By creating sacred space, you reserve a part of yourself and prevent your life from completely being filled up, occupied, or preoccupied... such a spiritual formation affords the ever increasing capacity to live life from the heart... so that we move through each day listening with the heart.

Like Padraig O'Tuama of the Corrymela Community in Belfast, Northern Ireland confesses: I am still often unfocused during these times.  You might have thought that after all these years I would be better at it but... not so much. Still the sitting continues like O'Tuama's poem "de noche" but in the morning.

By nighttime and streetlights,
I examine the light of the day
joined by the city's traffic sounds
coming through the window.

Asking where the heart
was buffet and bolstered;
what little moment
held the unexpected moment;

the kindnesses received and the
kindnesses withheld;
the injustices perceived
and the focus on the self;

what small surprise
showed arrogance or assumption;
naming desolation and consolation
and all the little junctions of the day.

And then, at night, I make a promise
by the traffic and the streetlights,
that tomorrow, at the same time,
I'll meet the night again.

In spite of my restlessness I trust Nouwen's other point to be true: that when we are awakened to the presence of God within us - when we know it, trust  it and feel it within - then we can begin to experience God in the world around us. This is the mystical union with all of creation that people of all traditions comprehend obliquely but no less authoritatively.  St. Paul says, "Now we see as through a glass darkly, then we shall see face to face."

Musicians, poets, artists, Zen Buddhists, Catholics, Muslims and those who favor honoring the rhythms of Mother Earth - everyone really - have their own words for the mystery of being fully unique and simultaneously fully connected to every other part of creation. St. John uses language that is supposed to sound weird and comforting to us at the same time: I pray that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. Not only are we all in this together, but we are all related one to the other, formed from the very source of creation who aches for us to be awakened to this sacred unity. Pope Francis said much the same thing this weekend while in Egypt.

The sitting is a small act of letting go in an ocean of selfishness and fear. Abraham Joshua Heschel spoke of Sabbath keeping in much the same way: if we can learn to experience one full day without being in control, maybe we can learn to trust God with the others, too. Maybe, indeed, we can trust that we are not God?


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