Tag Archives: Mindfulness

A Wink and a Nudge

Most of you know I’ve been trying to practice the presence of God in my everyday life. I have come to realize that I can never do it as well as Brother Lawrence who had been doing it for forty years when he wrote his book. I’m happy with baby steps.

On Wednesdays, my husband and I go ten pin bowling. We belong to the pensioners league where the emphasis is rather on having fun than racking up a good score, although there are some good bowlers in our ranks. (Out of my three games I only crept over a hundred in one.)

Image by Pixabay

This week, my husband bowled straight after me so we had very little interaction with each other. One has to concentrate to make sure one doesn’t miss a turn and then there is the fun of encouraging other members in the team and watching them bowl. At one stage he was standing in front of the chairs in the next lane, about three metres from me. He caught my eye and winked.

It occurred to me that that is one way we can be aware of God. We need to concentrate on what is going on around us and the task that engages us, but every now and then we can just lift our thoughts to Him and wink. Just an acknowledgement that He’s with us, we are aware of Him and things are good between us.

Later, as we were walking side by side to the car, I was aware of a touch on my arm, a nudge. My husband was warning me that a car had turned and would pass in front of us. I think sometimes God comes closer to us and we can feel His nudge. Those times when we just had an uneasy feeling about what we were about to do and we didn’t and we realized later that it would have been a bad move if we had done it. Or the times when we felt an overwhelming urge to contact somebody and what a blessing it was to both of us when we did.

If we remain mindful of the things we see, hear, taste, feel and sometimes smell, we can’t but be aware of God’s presence with us in the ordinary things of life:- a grandchild’s hug, a beautiful sunset, a fragrant rose, a refreshing drink or a relaxing bath.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, may I never be so caught up in my own thoughts, plans or concerns that I miss out on appreciating your everyday gifts of pleasure or opportunity. May my thoughts turn to You at every possible moment. I love You and I am so grateful You are with me even when I am unaware of You. Amen

Balancing Act

Today it happened. The two books I have been reading through in my assignation with God every morning suddenly aligned themselves together to make an AHA moment.

From Brother Lawrence’s book, “The Practice of the Presence of God,” I have been learning that this 17th century brother was able to spend all his days in constant communion with God, whether he was working in the noisy kitchen, preparing food, picking vegetables or in set times of prayer. Through the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to do the same, with limited success.

The other book, “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren, has taught me that it all starts with God and it’s about Him, not me; That I am not an accident, I was created on purpose; that life is a test, a trust and a temporary assignment; that I was made for God’s pleasure and that to make him smile is my goal.

Today I started Chapter 11, “Becoming Best Friends with God.” The scripture is “Since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life.” (Romans 5:10 NLT) The first section is about being best friends with God through constant conversation.

Rick Warren writes,” You can carry on a continuous, open-ended conversation with him throughout your day, talking with him about whatever you are doing or thinking at that moment. ‘Praying without ceasing’ means conversing with God while shopping, driving or other everyday tasks.”

He then goes on to talk about Brother Lawrence and quotes him. I was astounded. God has my attention. It seems like this is what He wants of me, to be in constant communion with Him. I am trying. I am failing a lot.

It encouraged me to read that Brother Lawrence also failed often. If he found his thoughts wandering, “without troubling or disquieting myself when my mind has wandered involuntarily,” he would bring his thoughts back to focusing on God. It took many years for him to be comfortable in that practice.

The picture that comes to my mind is of a young child trying to balance on a low wooden fence. At first she falls off at every second step. She climbs back up and continues. She doesn’t cry because she can’t do it, or start again because she wants to be perfect. She just keeps going. Eventually she will get really good at balancing on the wood and will be able to walk long distances without falling off.

That is my aim:- to keep on being aware of God as often as I can during my normal life until it becomes easier. I learned other tips from Rick Warren, other authors and my own experience but I’ll talk about those in my next post.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I hear what You are trying to say to me. I’d love to be in that kind of ongoing, intimate relationship with You. Please strengthen my mindfulness muscles and help me keep my focus on You. Amen.

Wind Chimes and Rainbows

A wind chime hangs outside my kitchen window. In the centre a ball is suspended from a string which continues to a plastic teardrop shaped like cut crystal. Around the main string hang three metal tubes of different lengths. When the wind blows, the ball moves and tings on the sides of the tubes, making the chiming noise. At a certain time of day the teardrop catches the sunlight and scatters it into rainbows which come through my kitchen window and dance around the counter top.

The wind chime has no motor or energy source of its own. All it has to do to make magic is just to be itself and allow itself to be moved by the wind. If it decided to take control and hold its strings rigid like wires, it would not work.

Wind and sun are around us all the time but it takes this simple contraption to draw our attention to them.

Jesus said, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8)

We are like that wind chime. All we have to do is to be what God created us to be and hold ourselves open to His Spirit. He does the work. His breath blows into us and His light shines through us and we can bring joy to the world and glory to our creator. When we decide to take control and do things our own way, we fall short of the magic for which we were created.

God is around us all the time but I, for one, am not usually aware of Him. Perhaps we all need to try to cultivate more mindfulness. In this way we can become more truly ourselves and bring glory to God. A time of quiet, of bible reading, of contemplation, can help us to cultivate this awareness. I am working through a book called “Taste and See” by Margaret Silf and am finding it helpful to explore different ways to become more mindful of God.

Alive

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b NIV)

I am going through Maxie Dunham’s book, ” The Workbook of Living Prayer” again. I am in Week Five at the moment and Day Six inspired these reflections.

Ireneus, one of the early church fathers, wrote, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

This implies that the glory of God is not only Christians in prayer, or studying the bible, or worshipping together or even caring for others. It is supremely found when Christians live life to the full. It is you and I and all human-kind, fully alive. To be alive is to be aware, to be fully present. Praying without ceasing is being aware, paying attention, mindfulness.

There are four aspects of awareness as God’s children.

Awareness of self. What am I feeling? What’s going on inside me? What am I sensing? A friend told me of the five, four, three, two, one method of settling down to prayer. Note five things I see, four things I hear, three things I feel, two things I smell and one thing I taste. ( All the more reasons to have a cup of coffee with my quiet time in the morning)

Awareness of others, deliberately being present to them, really seeing them and interacting. It is being willing to share ourselves with others.

Awareness of the world. God designed this world for us, who are flesh, to dwell in. He saw that it was good. We need to be aware of the world, not only the gifts of nature, but also the social fabric of life.

Awareness of God. When we open ourselves to God’s Spirit, we can be alive to God’s action in ourselves, others and the world.

The philosopher, Martin Heidegger talks about “openness” to “what is.” This means an openness and acceptance of myself as I am, of others as they are, of God for who He is and the world as it is. In this way we can become aware of what God wants to do through us and through others in the world.

Being open to what is carries risks. We expose ourselves to pain, embarrassment, sorrow, failure, rejection and other negative experiences. However, these are as much a part of real life as happiness, confidence, love, trust and joy.

The glory of God is each of us fully alive.

Bungee jump at night

Doing and Being

Every Saturday morning I take my granddaughters to Brownies and Teddies, the junior branches of the Girl Guides. It is in another suburb about fifteen to twenty minutes away. While they are there, I usually take myself out to breakfast at a little bistro not far from the church hall where they meet.

This morning I sat down facing the window instead of the TV and was about to whip out my phone to check my email, or check the news, or play games or something when I caught myself. Why do I feel compelled to always be doing something instead of just being?

Instead, I just looked out the window.

sdr

I saw the beautiful Jacaranda trees in full bloom. By and by, a lady came up to the tree directly opposite me. She was wearing an apron and carried a watering can. She carefully poured water around the tree and I noticed there was a little rockery around the tree where some Clivia were growing. I saw a man carry an empty box and carefully deposit it next to a dustbin. I saw a parking guard with a luminous orange vest pick up litter as he strolled backwards and forwards. I saw doves fly past and perch in the trees.

On a whim, I checked my new tracker watch to determine my heart rate. It was lower than it’s been since I got the tracker three days ago.

Shouldn’t we spend more time being rather than doing from wake up to sleep time? Wouldn’t we appreciate more of the abundant life Christ offers us? Shouldn’t we spend more time looking at the lilies in the field?

Isn’t it strange that when we meet strangers, a stock question is “What do you do?” and never “Who are you?” It is true that often we can gauge who a person is by what they do, but not always.

I am determined to spend more of my waste time just being. Time in the car as a passenger, time walking, time eating, time relaxing. My cell phone is merely a tool, not my master. It’s all right to just look around, enjoy the world and thank God.