Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Rest In the Present Love of God

Footprints - Linda's and mine - on a Lake Michigan beach
Linda and I just returned home from spending two days sitting on the beach at Warren Dunes State Park (Michigan). This is one of our all-time favorite places to declutter our minds. We read, we talk, we swim in the lake (many times yesterday - the water was cool and invigorating), we slow down, think, pray, ponder, and just flat-out "be."

We have also built this into our lives, on a daily basis. We both take time to get alone with God and do the above (except swim in Lake Michigan). Being with God, one-on-one, recharges our spiritual batteries. We tend the fire within so we won't burn out.

Yesterday I kindled a newspaper and read an article on the popularity of "mindfulness," and how people are paying to become "mindful." We read:

"Increasingly, people in settings beyond the serene yoga studio or contemplative nature path are engaging in the practice of mindfulness, a mental technique that dwells on breathing, attention to areas of the body and periods of silence to concentrate on the present rather than the worries of yesterday and tomorrow. Marines are doing it. Office workers are doing it. Prisoners are doing it. The technique is drawing tens of thousands to conferences and learning experiences across the nation and world, and studies have shown it to reduce the symptoms of certain diseases and conditions."

OK. Our world has always been filled with worry. Today is no exception. Our American culture feeds into worry, cultivating it and dispensing consumerism as medicine against it, which ends up breeding more worry, and so on and on in an endless cycling and recycling of the same. I think mere mindfulness can help by getting you to step off this elliptical machine. But better than this is solitary mind-centeredness on God. Christian mindfulness is not merely self-minded. Christian mindfulness is One-Thing-focused. This is the main distinction between a Buddhist-inspired mindfulness and the Jesus way. God enters into our present moment.

There is an ancient Jesus-way out of worry. Here Thomas Merton expresses it.

"God knows what He wants to do with me. Rest in His tremendous love—to know the savor and sweetness of God’s love expressed from moment to moment in all the contacts between Him and your soul—from outside in events, in His signified will and will of good pleasure, from within myself by the flow of actual graces. Rest in that union. It will feed you, fill you with life. There is nothing else you need. He will show you the way to increase it, and, if necessary, He will lead you into perfect solitude in His own good time. Leave it all to Him. Live in the present." (Thomas Merton, A Year with Thomas Merton, Kindle Locations 3580-3584)

Take time to be with God. Rest in His tremendous love. You don't have to go anywhere else to do this. And it's free.

(For more see Greg Boyd's excellent Present Perfect: Finding God In the Now.)