I am not good at meditation.
There, I’ve said it.
It’s something that bothers me, this “failing,” since I believe–in my heart of hearts–that the practice of meditation would be the single most significant positive change I could make in my life. I believe the connection and stillness of meditation are vital parts of a holy spiritual life. I believe the discipline and focus would calm my restless spirit. I believe meditation’s hurdle-free pathway to God would open my soul and fill it with so much goodness and light my cup would surely overflow.
What’s more, I know that my own label of “failure” when it comes to meditation is a ridiculous one. God loves me anyway; God meets me in a hundred thousand places every day, showering me with grace and not the slightest bit of judgement.
I am in a beautiful, intimate Sunday School class with five women at my church. This Fall we have been studying Malachi, a book theological scholar Lisa Harper summarizes as “a love that never lets go.” The women in my class are faithful and committed, bringing to our discussions insightful commentary on their own journeys as we meet week to week.
I have yet to do the homework even a single time, a fact that didn’t stop me from walking right on into class last Sunday, the unopened book in my bag and me with absolutely no idea what the week’s study had been all about. You know what happened? God met me right there in my totally unprepared state and delivered to me via these amazing women one of the most powerful messages of my spiritual life.
First, our fearless leader, Teresa, talked about worship as “moving toward God.” (Isn’t that a lovely and powerful concept?) Then she pointed out the Greek word Kardia, which appears in the bible 160 times and which, in simple translation, means “heart.” But get this. In the bible the word Kardia refers not just to a person’s emotional center, but to “the whole of the innermost part of the human,” including mental functioning, emotional responses, and will, or character.
Kardia is the seat of the soul, says Harper, and at its center is the holy of holies.
(Let’s just sit with that a minute.)
God, the holy of holies, is already there at the center of my being.
Here’s the thing. I am a woman with a big and busy life. I run at a crazy pace. And I’ve had this unconscious notion, all along, that God is up there watching over me as I move through the world trying to getting it all done.
God up there. God out there.
And all the while, God’s been in here.
I shall now pray differently. Instead of talking to God up there, I shall talk to God in here. And I shall think of meditation differently, too. I’ll no longer approach it as time in which I must get still and try try try to quiet my mind. Instead, I will think of it as leaving the “out there” world to its own devices for a bit and turning my attention inward. I will move toward kardia, my heart of hearts, the seat of my soul, and there I believe I will meet God. I will sit quietly, waiting. Content. And in the silence I know He will nurture and restore me, and then we will head back out into the Big Chaos of this world, together.
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I go to yoga sometimes, and my friend Dan, who leads the class, ends with increasing amounts of meditation time — time for me to wonder how my posture looks, since I am not the most erect sitter; time for me to ponder and experiment with the most comfortable (least uncomfortable) way to cross my legs since I am incredible inflexible, even after all those downward facing dogs and other stretches; time to think about whether I should go to the Chinese store or pizza place after I leave; time to wonder if there is anything to eat at home. You get the point. But on my vanity next to the sink in my bathroom is a little slip of paper that says, “If we are humble and sincere, God will finish in us the work he has begun.” (Catherine McAuley, who founded the Sisters of Mercy.) That’s my Kardia. Good thing I don’t need to be cross-legged when I read it.
I am going to write that line on a little slip of paper and put it next to my sink. How perfect! Thank you, MB. It is so comforting to know I am not alone in my wandering!
I have read this five times today! Everything that you wrote is exactly how I feel… Even down to walking into Sunday school not having opened my book, but leaving having gained so much knowledge and so many blessings. I have two different plaques in by bedroom with Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God” written on them. I glance at them from time to time and tell myself..” I have to find time to be still” … And then maybe, just maybe I will know. But I, like you, already know. I know that God is with me all of the time. That He is the center of my being. He hears my every thought and my every word.
Thank you for writing these eloquent words that made me stop in my tracks, smile, and take a deep breath. Resting assured that even in my busiest times I can talk to God and He will hear me. I so love you my friend!
For me, it makes everything so munch more simple! Thank you, sweet friend. Thank you for your beautiful story.
Cathy you are a blessing. The Holy Spirit is defined by you here. We may not understand but God is here in us.
Recently at a social security court hearing I suddenly realized my phone was on. In a panic I prayed that it not sound. It didn’t. I prayed within. When my friend and I were in the car I prayed aloud thanks “straight to God.” I now know He was within me. And Spring and I smiled at that realization.
I know just what you mean. Thank you, Rosie!
Beautiful. In the last two years I have begun to learn this, that God is within each of us, and if we seek the light, we will find our spiritual center. Stillness can be found in the most chaotic place: reaching inside myself with a prayer can bring peace. Thank you for your affirmation!
Thank you. It was such an aha to me–which is a bit strange since, of course, I have always known of “God within me.” Still this somehow changed everything.
Eckhart Tolle laughed saying people who meditate to become something other than what they are (which may just be a person with an active and chatty mind) don’t have an understanding of what meditation is. Looking inside to simply notice what is there, connecting to your heart of hearts — which yes, is where you will find God — that is meditation. I say you’ve been doing it all along! 😉
Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.
Thank you, Jill! Thus far my meditation has been me wondering why I can’t quiet my mind, followed by a lecture to myself to let the thoughts just pass through! I so appreciate your perspective.
Girl, You are something else! Cathy Monetti you absolutely bless my heart! While reading this I was able to see that sweet smile and twinkle in you eyes! You and your kindred spirit have certainly enriched my life! Thank You, thank You, thank You!????
Thank you, my dear friend!