“Wakefulness” – more thoughts on a just and humble lifestyle, and a “Simple Prayer” for your spiritual practice
These are the pleasures that we take in our own lives,
our own wakefulness in this world,
and in the company of other people and creatures
– pleasures innate in the Creation and in our own good work.
Wendell Berry !
In my congregational email on Monday I shared a bit of the teaching of John Schramm, who often spoke of aspiring to a “just and humble lifestyle,” a way of making life’s sojourn with the ability to refrain from obsession with the things of our consumer culture and a way of seeking a justice that redeems the brokenness of the human condition. Such a path through life seeks to embrace our place in the natural order, to build bridges in human community and to celebrate the goodness of simple pleasures. Our “wakefulness in this world,” as Wendell Berry put it, can open us to the goodness of a just and humble lifestyle.
‘Wakefulness’ in this time of pandemic can also encourage us to be more mindful of the sick and the suffering and those who care for them, and to the voices who call for racial and economic justice for those dying from disease and societal violence. To some degree, our enforced ‘lock down’ has brought us to elements of the wakeful simplifying and somber reflection that a just and humble lifestyle fosters.
In his weekly meditation last Saturday, Richard Rohr shared what he called “A Simple Prayer” to help the spiritual sojourner focus on the ‘one thing’ which has led mystics, poets and religious to God and to greater joy and satisfaction in their lives. He cited the prayer practice of Nelson Kane, a graphic designer by trade and an advocate for simplicity in community. I share Kane’s meditative prayer practice with you here, as Kane shared it with Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation on May 2, 2020, and as Rohr shared it with his readers in his July 4 daily meditation last week:
Begin this prayer with deep gratitude for all we are given, for the majesty of life that we are so privileged to be a part of. Offer a prayer that expresses your desire to connect more deeply to the holy unity of all of life.
This practice can be done seated but stand if you’re able. If possible, pick a place in nature, perhaps surrounded by trees where you can feel relaxed and safe.
The intention of this prayer-practice is to be empty of all that stands in the way of being truly connected to God. Ask God to be with you, to join you in this day. Ask God for help in releasing to emptiness. Ask, deeply, to see with God’s eyes, to hear and speak and be in the place where God coexists with human life.
Allow yourself to become quiet, still and centered. Let go of the mind’s and body’s expressions of anxiety, loss, tension and all the energetic ways we block, close and retreat from being with God. Allow yourself to find stillness.
Feel your body connect to the ground . . .
Start by standing, feeling your feet connect to the ground, centering your weight over the center of your feet. Relax your body—feel your face relax, your shoulders relax, scan down and feel each part of your body relaxing and emptying. Moving down from head to foot—start to frame your deep intention.
If words are appropriate, let them arise with your true desire to be truly connected to God. As prayer, as affirmation, whatever it is, let your desire to be connected to God fill your relaxed mind and heart.
Allow your heart to feel your deep intention beyond words. Allow yourself to feel the wordless energy of your prayer. As you feel your body empty of tension, feel your deep intention filling and expanding within you. Allow this silent prayer to fill every part of your body, every cell. Let it radiate from your core outward. Finally, rest in this place of being, feeling, listening to this energy of your deepest desire, of your truest intention.
Some of you are, perhaps, rolling your eyes a bit before the challenge to take on such a sensory meditative practice. Others know the significance of such simple meditation and can attest to their own version of such discipline. On the quest for a just and humble lifestyle, I would simply offer the commendation, “Try it – you may like it.” You may even find a new way to shape your spiritual journey in prayer.
As we grow spiritually, our lives become more and more centered and simple.
There are only a few things that matter, and eventually really only one.
Once again, blessings to you on this warm summer day. May you find something ‘simple’ to fill you and inspire you. May you be safe, may you be well, and may you be held in love.
It remains a privilege to serve as one of your pastors.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Bob Linstrom