Time for Rising

Lift your head and dry your eyes.
Time for rising.
–Steve Bell, Bethany in the Morning

During Lent, I tried unsuccessfully to refrain from zoning out. Many evenings I succumbed to temptation and played Scrabble on my tablet or snacked while watching Netflix. As the weeks passed, I became more and more aware of how my addictions control me.

When I took it to God, I felt invited to renew my practice of Centering Prayer in the morning and do it again in the evening to keep the demons at bay. I hoped this would loosen my addictions’ hold on me and reconnect me to my desire for God.

Sometimes all I could do was make myself sit for twenty minutes in prayer with the promise that I could have a game of Scrabble afterwards. This actually felt like a move forward, and I do think it helped.

Working so hard to pray and fight my addiction doesn’t feel very contemplative. There’s a violent tone to it. Yet Christ didn’t come to me with clubs and swords, but with his breath. Just breathe. That’s all I had to do.

On Easter weekend, I listened to a podcast by Christine Valters Paintner on work. She quoted Thích Nhất Hạnh and in a guided meditation invited me to pay attention to what happens in my body when I rush and what happens when I’m present.

As I said last week, that’s when Christ appeared to me. Now was the time for rising.

I began reading Thích Nhất Hạnh’s The Miracle of Mindfulness and Richard Rohr’s The Naked Now and committed myself to a few simple practices:

  • Practice Centering Prayer 20 min twice a day.
  • Pray the Examen at the end of the day.
  • Whenever your mind is dispersed, pay attention to your breath. Count it. Let it return you to the present.
  • As much as possible, wherever you are, be fully there. Let it be the most important thing to do.

I get nervous when I write a “To Do” list like this. I don’t want to set myself up for failure. But in another podcast, Paintner talked about her rule for Sabbath keeping and admitted that, although she cannot always keep it, it’s good to return to. She likened it to what happens in Centering Prayer: when our mind wanders off, we are invited to gently return to God.

This felt doable.

An Ignatian practice is to recognize times of consolation (when we are turned toward God) and times of desolation (when we are turned away). Then make a plan while in consolation for what to do when desolation comes.

Mornings are my times of consolation and evenings are my dark times. By committing to these practices in the morning, even if I can’t always do them, there’s more possibility that I will.

I may not be able to sit for long or pray the Examen, but I can follow my breath for a few minutes and be aware of God praying in me, loving me, now, and now, and now.

The one thing we do every moment of our lives [i.e. breathe] is therefore to speak the name of God. This makes it our first and last word as we enter and leave this world.–Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” –John 20:19-22 (NIV)

 * * *

Love Mischief for the World

Christine Valters Paintner , PhD, OblSB, REACE is the online Abbess of Abbey of the Arts, a Benedictine oblate, and the author of 8 books on monastic spirituality and creativity, as well as a poet, photographer, spiritual director, pilgrim guide, and teacher. I met Christine at a workshop SoulStream hosted for spiritual directors a few years ago. I still have the collage I made that day. This Easter, I signed up for Christine’s “daily nourishment” and received an invitation to take a free 8-day “Monk in the World” e-course, which contains the podcasts I referred to in my post today. I found her course so helpful, I have recommended it to directees and friends. The podcast I listened to on work is on the fifth day of that course. 

What love mischief are you and God doing to care for the world?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
Raising of Lazarus photo by Ted. Used with permission. This brightly-coloured icon is a fresco on the wall in the Monastery of St. John near Athens.
Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, page 25.
Sunrise by Susanne Nilsson . Used with permission.
Photo of Christine Valters Paintner used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows:
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2018.  http://www.estherhizsa.com

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Easter, Ignatian Spirituality, Overeating, Reflections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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