Thursday, November 08, 2007

where my spirit lives

I was reminded last weekend of where my spirit lives. I had forgotten about the physical space in my body that feels full when I'm connected with God--it's not that I hadn't felt that recently, I just hadn't been paying attention to when that happens. I said something to another person at the Youthworkers Training Conference last weekend about, "What, your spirit doesn't live in your intestines?" or something like that, just joking around, and she said, "No, my spirit lives here," pointing to her chest. "Mine, too," I said, remembering.

My spirit lives in a seed-shaped space in the center of my chest, which is interesting, because of course that is a place where many religions focus their spiritual energies. I didn't know that when I started noticing the spiritual sense of fullness there when I feel close to God.

It was a good reminder to pay attention to my body and my spirit together, because they work together, and give me clues about both their needs, and give me clues about when I am in the presence of God in an unusual way.

Tonight I was practicing centering prayer, which is a contemplative type of prayer where you don't do anything, you just try to be present to God. You don't try to discern anything or hear God or meet any expectations, you simply are. It took me a while to finally just become present in the moment, not thinking or planning or worrying or reminiscing, just being there. When I started focusing on my spirit's connection to the Spirit, my self fell away and I forgot all that other stuff and was able to simply be. It's an amazing feeling to just let everything I am fall away and just be in God's presence. I wonder why we don't do this more often? What's so hard about it? I don't know.

I hear that living the contemplative life will bring up all the bad stuff in myself--that I'll start noticing stuff about myself that I don't like, and that that will chase me away from being contemplative. I think this is definitely true--it's one of the main reasons I've gotten out of the habit of centering prayer, I'm pretty sure. Tonight I noticed how self-centered I am, all my thoughts and plans revolving around myself and unable to be stopped...but then they were stopped. It's that sweet sense of spaciousness when I can forget my self-centeredness and everything not so good about myself, and just's that experience that makes it beautiful and keeps me at this thing called the "contemplative life."

It seem significant to me that I just realized again where my spirit lives by chance, right as I was on the brink of heading back into this contemplative way of living. I think this is what Quakers call "the Inner Light," because it seems like the space in myself that is burning with a holy fire, that's connected to the Divine, that is at once both the space that is most intensely myself and most intensely not-myself. It's that space-between, that mediating world between thought and intuition, that space where God takes on human flesh and breaks through into the world. By attending (and tending) to this space I co-create with God a way for God to break through into the world, and all I have to do is just be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful description of centering prayer, thanks for the comments. I think that it's natural to go back and forth with a complatative life. There is a time to clean out the closets and a time to work in the community.

The messages that I most often hear are: "shut up and listen" or "what more do you need, get off your duff and do something". I know that you could say the same thing more eloquently and that is why I like your blog.
Thanks again