How are you doing this morning?
I find it a little silly, this blog that I turn to from time to time. I realize that friends read, but I think it is mostly a place for me to process my thoughts. Since it is more than a journal or something hidden, maybe I try to think a little more clearly. My grammar is still poor, but the thoughts get across. Today I need the push to think more clearly.
Today, I am finding that lack of connection to people heavy. And that need to process equally insistent.
I have not journaled once during this stay-at-home order. How many days are we now? 24 days since I picked the oldest up from college. 24 days.
I am a journaler. I think best when i write, and yet…I have not thought very well in the last three weeks.
I have been distracted.
How about you?
I’ve been following the numbers, but also not allowing myself to be overwhelmed by the news. Before my allergies went into overdrive, I walked with the kids through the neighborhood. We looked for bears in windows, we looked for rocks that had been decorated and spoke little messages of hope. Now I linger on FaceBook and read the stories of hope. I relish the conversations between neighbors online offering help, offering encouragement. I’ve been distracted enough to watch the Tiger King. I think even our neighborhood car burgler is adhering to the stay-at-home order because we have not seen him in three weeks. People are trying to behave.
We have not suffered in our house…we have been inconvenienced, but not suffered. We are accustomed to school at home, so that has not been a significant change. I am missing watching my soccer player, and Maddie only participated in one practice before everything stopped. We were coming out of Spring Break when this all began, and the rhythm of a relaxed schedule has continued. It’s almost 10 and three of the kids are still asleep.
This is Holy Week. Lent got caught up for me in a forced austerity, at least of community, not an intentional fasting and focus.
I have neglected the readings. I have glanced at the slow progression toward the Cross, but I have not participated.
Now. Good Friday is upon us. I’m not really ready. I missed the preparation in my soul.
I’ve been distracted.
I have friends who have done well. They have pressed in to God. They have prayed, they have thought well and they have pursued. I have prayed…but I have been distracted. I have friends who have also written well about the strangeness of this time, and the difficulty to process while we are in the midst of the moment. This is an article worth reading, from Rebecca K Reynolds.
Distraction can be lethal to our spiritual health. Check out this quotation from G.K. Chesterton:
“For, though we talk lightly of doing this or that to distract the mind, it remains really as well as verbally true that to be distracted it to be distraught. The original Latin word does not mean relaxation; it means being torn asunder as by wild horses. The original Greek word, which corresponds to it, is used in the text which says that Judas burst asunder in the midst. To think of one thing at a time is the best sort of thinking; but it is possible, in a sense, to think of two things at a time, if one of them is really subconscious and therefore really subordinate. But to deal with a second thing which by its very nature thrust itself more and more aggressively in front of the first thing is to find the very crux of psychological crucifixion. I have generally found that the refined English persons who think it idolatrous to contemplate a religious image, turn up next time full of delighted admiration of some Yogi or Esoteric Hindu who only contemplates his big toe. But at least he contemplates something, and does not have ten thousand brazen drums to encourage him to do it. He is so far a real philosopher, in spite of his philosophy. He does not try to do two incompatible things at once.” – Chesterton from On The Prison of Jazz
“To deal with a second thing which by its very nature thrust itself more and more aggressively in front of the first thing”! Yes! That is the sense of my thinking right now, thank you G.K.
One more from Chesterton:
“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.”
We have to be present to the one thing right now. This week. This pivotal moment that we remember, that we embrace, that we ponder. Boy did I need help this morning to bring my attention to check. Chesterton has helped, he has pointed out the problem…how about a little help from Buechner:
In our minds we are continually chattering with ourselves, and the purpose of meditation is to stop it. To begin with, maybe we try to concentrate on a single subject-the flame of a candle, the row of peas we are weeding, our own breath. When other subjects float up to distract us, we escape them by simply taking note of them and then letting them float away without thinking about them. We keep returning to the in-and-out of our breathing until there is no room left in us for anything else. To the candle flame until we ourselves start to flicker and burn. To the weeds until we become only a pair of grubby hands pulling them. In time we discover that we are no longer chattering.
If we persist, every once and so often we may find ourselves entering the suburbs of a state where we are conscious but no longerconscious of anything in particular, where we have let go of almost everything.
The end of meditation is to become empty enough to be filled with the kind of stillness the Psalmist has in mind when he says, “Be still, and know that I am God” Buechner from Wishful Thinking
We haven’t missed it. You who are distracted as I am. You who are having a hard time staying focused on reading anything. You who are having a hard time getting out of bed, for that matter. You who long to lean in toward God, and yet the energy and the focus are difficult to find at the moment….you haven’t missed it.
Today is Good Friday.
You haven’t missed it.
Press in today. Find the space physically and mentally and spiritually and meditate. Stop the chatter. Need some help?
Start here, with some thoughts from Malcolm Guite and then continue to this from Steve Bell with Malcolm Guite. These will help you think on the stations of the cross, with a link to Malcolm’s sonnets on the stations and a couple songs from Steve.
Then, this….this is a fantastic resource. This is a visual resource for praying through the Stations of the Cross. This will give you the steps to focus your mind, to prepare your soul for Easter.
Finally…find an online service. We have one at my church, The Village Chapel. Use the resources and press in. Push out the distractions, at least for today. Then again for Easter. Then again the next day…
This is a strange time, and distraction may be a saving grace for at least moments in this season. But not for this moment. This moment requires discipline, and requires focus. I’m a little more prepared now…how about you? Let’s press in and not miss this moment. This very strange Good Friday and Easter which may just be a moment to meet Jesus in a new way that awakens our spirit.
You haven’t missed it.