Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I think it was a good choice to follow a different discipline this Lent. I don't have the same sense of drudgery I had begun to develop about the daily lectionary, which I had done annually for several years.

I ended up starting with the book Finding Grace at the Center -- The Beginning of Centering Prayer. It was a good choice. It's a small book -- just a collection of four essays with a little forward and summary, really. But it spells out how to go about a Christian form of prayer that is similar to Transcendental Meditation.

So today, for the first time, I tried to actually apply it. My success was limited. The book recommends that you set aside at least 20 minutes for this type of prayer. In fact, it says "Less than this hardly gives one a chance to get fully into the prayer and be wholly refreshed." But I found at the end of my first attempt that it had consumed all of five minutes. Still, I did feel that for a period there, I had brought my mind to a more relaxed, peaceful state. So I assume the rest will come gradually, with practice. I suspect I got the beginning and end right and shortchanged the middle. (Arguably, the most important part.)

I reviewed the rest of the books again this afternoon, deciding which one to read next. I think I'm going to turn next to Practicing the Prayer of Presence, though I think I will intersperse it with The World According to Mister Rogers. I think the former will be more of the kind of thing I found in the first book, while I think the Mister Rogers book will be stimulating in a whole different way.

I'm not sure if I will ever get around to the other books I had pulled out. The more I look at them, the more academic they seem. I can sort of remember being the cerebral, grad-school kinda girl who got heavily into that sort of deep philosophical navel-gazing, but I don't know that they actually speak to me now. I find at age 50 I am less cerebral but also less arrogant; there have been a lot of trade-offs in how how I view the world, and I don't think I want to work as hard as those books would make me work when I'm not convinced the benefit is there.

As my readers mostly know, I have a son who is 15 years old. At times now I hear him wrestling with philosophical, cosmological and theological issues that used to interest me. My first instinct is to sort of brush it off, to tell him it's not worth the energy he is putting into it. But I have to stop and remind myself that at 15 (and 20 and 25, even) one must work through some of those things. I can't expect him to view the world from my 50-year-old perspective. I have become increasingly a conflict-avoider; I've learned to make ideological compromises that let me sleep at night. He's still ready to fight the universe over inequities and injustices and to rail against inconsistencies in logic and belief. And that is exactly as it should be.

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