Showers, Smartphones and Looking at the Mountains With Your Eyes Closed
There’s something about a long, hot shower. It soothes, it heals, it refreshes. For many of us, it’s the only moment of pure peace in our entire day. There’s no phone to answer. No laundry to fold. No appointment to keep. There’s nothing to do.
There is simply to be.
Scholars say we have entered a time in human existence they have termed the end of boredom. For the first time in history, we are all connected. We are never alone. Our friends (no matter where they live) are always available. Music, movies, games and endless streams of information are as close as our cellphone.
Netfilx, Snapchat, Selfies, Angry Birds
There is always something to do.
We are never alone…
…with our thoughts.
There is an ancient method of prayer, most closely associate with Eastern spiritual practices such a Zen Budhism or Yoga. It’s called Centering Prayer.
Centering prayer is designed to connect with God at the center of our being. God inside us.
Now for many this seems strange or even impossible. Perhaps sacrilegious. We are much more comfortable with a God who is out there somewhere.
On a mountain.
In the sky.
Really though, since the beginning Christians have been taught that our body is a temple for God. The Holy Spirit lives within us.
In our soul.
At our core.
The difficulty in connecting with this God inside us is that we have so many distractions in our lives. So much of our time is spent doing. Work, relationships, eating, driving, tazes. So many things fill up so much of our time. There is so much to do.
In fact we’ve become so comfortable doing things that we have become uncomfortable with anything else. So, we fill up or free time doing more things. Every second of our lives, even our kids lives are planned out. Have you ever scheduled a play date?
And if we do find a free moment, we always have our cell phone, right?
Of course, this need to be doing has affected our spiritual life as well. To pray means to do something, right? We go to church, we fold our hands, we listen to worship music, we say a prayer.
What if there is another way? A way that is leading us not to do, but to be?
Centering prayer is quite simple really. First, take a few minutes to calm your thoughts. Try to disconnect from all distractions. It might help to find a quiet place where you can be alone. Pick a word or sound. Repeat this word over and over between breaths. You will find that you develop a rhythm. If you find yourself distracted, simply reset and begin again. When you have finished praying, thank God for the time together.
If this still seems strange, consider this. Have you ever gone on a long walk with someone you love dearly? Have you ever held hands and enjoyed a few moments of silence together? No words were spoken, but there is no doubt that love was shared.
That is the idea of centering prayer. It is simply spending time with a God that loves you so intimately that He lives inside you. No words are needed, in fact no words are available to explain the depth of that love.
Recently, I drove to the mountains. It was a beautiful, cool spring morning. I pulled off into a parking area to admire the view. And it was a beautiful view. From where I stood on the sidewalk, dozens of mountain peaks were visible. The only signs of civilization were a few small farms in the valley below. After a few moments, I closed my eyes. When I did, I realized that the beauty of the view had been a distraction from the sounds all around me. At first, I heard cars on a distant highway. Then, I nearby waterfall. As I listened more deeply, I heard the cry of a far off bird. I became aware of the wind blowing gently through the tall grass.
It was then when I realized that both my eyes and ears were distracting me from a deeper beauty. When I stopped trying to see God and hear God, I was able to simply be with God.
For a few moments, I experienced pure peace. There was no phone to answer. No laundry to fold. No appointment to keep. There was nothing to do. There was simply to be.
Be still, and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10