I am experiencing this transformation.
Don’t get me wrong. I can still be a jerk. I am often scatterbrained and disorganized. Many of the the things I have always struggled with, I continue to struggle with.
And yet: things are getting better.
They are not easier. But they are better.
That’s what moved me to begin collecting these experiences here at The Contemplace. I began experiencing this transformation. Things have been getting better. Some of these changes are connected with this stage I of life I am in. I am moving into the second half of my life, and it can be awesome. Some of these changes are connected with stepping out of worn out understandings, faith communities that don’t fit me anymore. Much of it is connected with my practice of simply sitting, every day. Meditating and contemplating and spending time in wordless prayer with God.
I think the thing that is most surprising about this all is that I sometimes feel more pain and loss and sorrow than I did. A few years ago, if I could have wished for anything, it would have been to short-circuit the process of feeling hurts. I would have wanted to skip out on feeling lost, sad, alone, incompetent, depressed, inadequate.
Somewhere, somehow, I had even picked up the idea that this was actually the end game for me spiritually: if I simply could get my thinking just exactly right about Jesus, I would experience this life of happiness. My external circumstances would match up with my internal contentment. I would live this life where there was no doubt or despair.
Apparently, this isn’t how it works.
I am finding that I am simply increasing my capacity to withstand suffering.
I guess my time of sitting is a sort-of practice. When I spend these chunks of time meditating, I am avoiding my normal defences and escapes. I begin to find myself using these skills when hard things happen in the rest of my life.
Also, I have this assurance, this experience: lousy feelings won’t break me. Embracing hard things won’t be my end. I am learning that pain never killed anybody.
I have been thinking a lot about Jesus.
He kept talking about how his end was coming. And when his friends and followers tried to minimize this, when they tried to change the subject and escape this incoming reality, Jesus had some pretty harsh words for them. The night before the beginning of the end, he went out to pray, and all he asked them was to be awake with him.
There is a metaphor lurking around all this. This is the first time in my life I have been awake to my pain. When the people around me are hurting, I am finding that I am awake to theirs, too.
In my life, almost every time of growth, maturity and change have been different than I expected. I expect flashing lights, buzzers, easily visible things that transform everything in these obvious ways. Inevitably, what I find is that life change is marked by this subtle shift that ends up changing everything. Each time I expect a change that is like a Summer blockbuster, and I end up experieincing a shfit that is more like some brilliantly executed, quiet and brilliant independent drama.
My current experiences are not different. And I am finding that I quite like those little independent dramas.
I began The Contemplace out of a desire to share what is going on with me. I figure that there are lots of folks on this same journey with me, and also lots of others who are feeling an itch, standing at the beginning of the path and wondering if they ought to head down it.
I hope today that you’ll leave a comment from where ever you are on whatever path you are on. It would be nice to hear from you.
And if you are looking for a little inspiration in your own meditative practice… well, let’s keep it simple today. Perhaps we can sit, and breathe, and know that we are learning to take Jesus’ path into pain and death, and we can be aware that this practice will come with rewards that we will carry with us, far beyond the time we spend sitting.