Thursday, July 17, 2014

Unconventional Meditation

The value of meditation is well known.  Meditation is recommended to relieve stress and to cope with illness or other challenging circumstances.  Most teachers who give advice or teach classes on meditation describe sitting on the floor or in a chair, concentrating on breathing and sitting for increasingly longer periods of time.

I honor the value of meditation as these teachers describe, however my difficulty with meditation is I have trouble sitting still.  I can quiet my mind and heart quickly, I can focus on breath, going deeper with each inhale and breathing out what I need to release.  Despite the ways I follow "directions for meditation" I cannot sit still.  My body seems programmed for only a few minutes, about two.

God heard the cry of my heart desiring to be still with God to listen.  God provided me with a few unconventional ways to meditate and stay still for extended periods.  For example, one day I was restless, so I went outside to the front yard and sat next to the flowers and plants which adorn our yard.  I noticed a few sticks resting in the mulch which were about two or three inches long.  I gathered a small pile and arranged them in a row along the concrete.  I walked around the yard, brought a handful of sticks to the porch and continued the row.  Within the space of gathering and placing sticks, I found God entering my heart.  I discovered a few remnants of daffodil flowers from spring which were faded yellow laying in the dirt.  I placed these daffodil pieces on top of the sticks making what looked to me like "candles".  Again with each task, God continued to fill my heart.

Finally, I gathered another smaller pile of sticks, fascinated by the range of color I saw in them.  Some of the sticks were grey, others burgundy, a few more brown.  I grouped the sticks according to color and again experienced God's presence filling my heart.

I left the porch deeply filled with God.  I spent time later reflecting on my experience realizing I had been meditating as I interacted with the sticks.  God was very present to me on the porch.  Although I did move getting more sticks and arranging them, God accompanied my movement.

Since that time on the porch, I have arranged many rows of sticks.  I have sorted pieces of torn cards, and a shredded book.  All of these experiences were meditative because God opened my heart working with each piece.

For many years I felt badly when I heard pastors, spiritual directors, counselors and others speak about the value of meditation.  I tried sitting in my chair, breathing, opening my palms over and over with no results other than frustration and feeling I wasn't much of a Christian because I couldn't meditate.  God led me to a way that I can "be still with God" in a meditative way.

I wonder if Abraham entered a meditative state when he was gathering wood to make an altar for Isaac?  Did Noah sense God's presence when he was gathering stones for an altar after the flood waters receded?  I wonder if Mary felt God with her when she tore cloth strips to make swaddling clothes for Jesus?

Other "unconventional ways" I find meditative are swimming laps, quilting, baking biscuits, and taking a walk.  I am thankful for the ways God knows me personally, works with me and shows me ways to enter and receive God's presence, considering the way God created a restless, unconventional me.

Prayer:  God I ask you come to each one who reads these words, desiring ways to grow deeper with you. Give encouragement as we find our own way to "be still".  Amen

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