Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Be Still or How I Heard My Heartbeat in My Ear

This morning was Day 4 for me of working through a prayer journal that my mom gave me for Mother’s Day even though I am not her mother. Mother’s Day was not four days ago, which proves, as if it needed proving, that spending time in prayer does not come easy for me. The book, Writing to God: 40 Days of Praying With My Pen, by Rachel Hackenberg, suggested this morning that I read Psalm 46 and then set a timer for ten minutes to truly be still and know that God is God. Since it is Day 4, and like any good student, I am still eager to complete the lessons with A+ effort, I set my watch, folded my legs to appear more yoga-like, and closed my eyed.

And nearly panicked.

Ten minutes of holding still and knowing that God is God suddenly seemed impossible. What if he wasn’t going to speak to me? What if he was and I didn’t like what he said? What if my mind wandered?

It did.

I tried to take deep breaths and relax, but was totally consumed by the sound of my heartbeat in my ear, which I think was I could hear because it is so plugged up. Then I thought about post-nasal drip. And whether or not I would get a chance to exercise today. And whether or not I would wash my hair. And whether or not I would let it drip dry. My thoughts roamed slowly around in depressingly unspiritual loops. Yoga pants versus jeans. Post-nasal drip. The pattern of my bedspread. A small thought about knowing that God is God. Breathing. Stiffness in my neck. Weeds. Wind. Post-nasal drip. Wondering how much time was left. Hair washing, again. The time I wore my yoga pants inside out and backwards half a day without noticing and swore then and there to go back to the land of zippers, buttons and self-respect.

The timer went off and I picked up my journal. And wrote this: “Sorry, God. I feel like I just wasted your time.” But that is just the thing. Thinking that I wasted God’s time is hubris. It means I still think that time is mine to waste – that I own it, even in its misuse. I did not waste God’s time, because Big-T Time is not mine. It belongs to God. Thinking about the “unproductiveness” of my roaming mind, is still thinking about Me, is still a rating of my performance, which is a convoluted form of conceit and time-ownership. Ten minutes of quiet, thinking about God being God, is not about Me. And that, I think, may be the whole point, at least today.

I do want to learn to clear my mind. I do want to learn to pray and hold still and think about things other than washing my hair. But even if I do learn how to hold still, how to be in the presence of God without talking, I will never own time. Because I am not God. And somehow that feels comforting.

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