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Year Two, Day 304: Contemplation: Surfing the Stillness

I woke this morning, early with a word.

That word was "contemplation".

It was just sitting there behind my eyeballs.

I felt like pieces of a puzzle were attempting to fit together in my head.

This introversion I talk about.  Could it be that I could turn it into a positive? Instead of trying to always adjust myself to try and fit in or not offend, could I perhaps just accept that I want to live a more contemplative existence?

To want to go deeper into my spiritual life? And be ok with that? And have others be ok with that too?

Can I balance this with caring for my family, friends, and students? And continue to reach out to the stranger in need?

Can I be a contemplative in a relationship?

I have stood at the door to this path. Many times.  I remember a moment years ago. I was working part time as a caregiver. One of my clients was a man who had entered Mt. Angel Abbey as a young man, intent on becoming a priest. But then he met the love of his life and married her.  When I met them, she had advanced Alzheimer's. He still loved her dearly. I would come and help with housekeeping and personal care once a week. And we would talk.  He lent me a book about Irish monks who lived on Skellig Island in the Middle Ages.

(Sun Dancing: A Vision of Medieval Irelandby Geoffrey Moorhouse).

I still remember the goosebumps as I opened this book and was transported back in time.  And there was this "knowing" that I felt.

This "knowing" had to do with resonating deeply with monastic life.  And finally seeing a glimpse of who my authentic self might be. I have so many more thoughts.  Too many to share right now without completely rambling.

But my meandering path did lead me to a personal retreat at the Shalom Prayer Center in Mt. Angel. And a love for the writings of Thomas Merton.

I have a small bookshelf that contains several of his books along with several other prized books I have collected along the way.  Waiting for the perfect time to sit in solitude and read. And contemplate.

But life got busy along the way.  Family obligations. Work. Financial struggles. Anxiety, depression, overeating. I sunk.

But then I started to rise.  And here I am.  Still alive. Still kicking. And still desiring a deeper spiritual life.

My new living situation is perfect for contemplation. I have the perfect opportunity for walking meditation. The buses do not run often on the weekends out her. So I walk.

This morning, since I woke up with contemplation on the brain, I was energized and wide awake. I left for breakfast with my mother with plenty of time.

It began as a warm, quiet day. At least for my walk.  I did not put my headphones in and listen to the radio.  I listened to the birds.  I breathed the damp air. I acknowledged the trees.

Trees are so incredible. Standing there giving us oxygen, shelter for the birds, shade. They give so much and stand there in humble, grand beauty. Almost like they are standing guard.

I walked up to a massive fir tree.  And I put my hand on his trunk. It felt warm.

My mind felt clear. I felt balanced. It is this balance and stillness that I seek.  I don't find it often.

It is like surfing. I am always paddling, trying to reach the crest or recovering from being tossed about by a crashing big wave.

But sometimes, I make it to this place. And I stand up and feel totally balanced. And still. And I swear I can feel the breath of God. And I surf. I surf the stillness.

If only I could live in it.

Reality does send me sprawling.

A few days ago I heard a song on K-Love a Christian radio station.  It stopped me dead in my tracks. And brought many tears.  It was called "Still". Sung by Hillary Scott.

Here are the lyrics that grabbed me:
You're parting waters
Making a rain for me
You're moving mountains that I don't even see
You've answered my prayer before I even speak
All You need for me to be is still

And know that You are God
Be still
And know that You, trust that You are parting waters
Lord, You whispered my name
Oh, You answered my prayer
You're moving mountains

You're parting waters
Making a rain for me
You're moving mountains that I don't even see
You've answered my prayer before I even speak
All You need for me to be is still
Be still"

Written by Justin Ebach, Molly E. Reed • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, ST Music LLC
This song I heard the same day that I read in Exodus about how Moses held up his staff and God parted the Red Sea. Just that very morning. 
But the mountain God is moving is my stubborn resistance. My vacillating faith. 
I remembered something I told a friend years ago as we talked about prayer.  I told her that I do pray frequently for others, for myself, for greater faith and in gratitude. 
But mostly when I pray, I desire to be in the presence of God.
This morning, walking with the birds, in the quiet stillness of the morning, greeting the trees and just being in the moment, I felt like I was.
Happy Saturday!
Talk to you tomorrow.



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