Darn Distractions!

Wednesday 29th March
Luke 1:13
The angel said to him:
Do not be afraid, for your prayer has been heard
Those darn distractions; Bless them!
– Basil Pennington

Whatever form of prayer we practice
one thing that we all have to contend with is distractions.
Whether we are meditating, using a form of set prayers,
doing reflective reading, offering prayer,
doing something practical and creative,
or taking part in an act of worship
we are bound to be beset with distractions.
Our mind will wander, we will begin to day dream,
we will begin to ponder what we will have for dinner,
we will wonder whether or not we left the oven switched on;
we will suddenly begin to brood over something someone said,
or we said, or wish we hadn’t said,
or we will remember something we have forgotten to do.
The minute we stop and try to be still,
try to be quiet, try to be reflective, the distractions kick in.
It is perhaps distractions more than anything else
that make us believe we are no good at prayer.
Fr. Basil Pennington says that we should not worry about them,
but simply bless them as they arise,
and then gently bring our attention back to our prayer.
The 16th century spiritual master, Saint Francis de Sales, said
that even if we did nothing during our whole time of prayer
except bring our mind back
and place it once again into the Lord’s Presence,
it would be time well employed.
So don’t be discouraged by distractions.
When you mind wanders bless it, smile and offer it to God.
Don’t be afraid, your prayer has been heard.

Diary: Wednesday April 25th 2007

This morning I awake at 5.30am
and got up to meditate as I normally do.
I struggle.
I follow my breath and my mind wanders.
I repeat my mantra and my mind wanders.
I breathe and repeat my mantra; breathe and repeat my mantra.
“I’m getting there now”, I think. And realise I am thinking.
Back to the mantra.   Back to the breathing.
Just keep going.
“It’s not happening today. I might as well stop.”
No. Breathe. Repeat the mantra.
And so it continues.

Eventually it ends.
I shrug my shoulders. It’s one of those days.
I put the coffee machine on and go to shower.

The water is beautiful and refreshing.
The sensation of the shower gel is reviving.
I find myself smiling.

I go downstairs and smell the coffee
Such a holy smell
Such a divine taste.
And suddenly it strikes me
My time of meditation has not ended.

God is in the shower.
God is in the coffee.
God is in this moment.
Wednesday April 25th is a holy day.

I smile. I breathe. I say thank you.
And I wonder….
Would I have been aware of all this
if I had not struggled with my meditation?
Just a thought.