Monday 23rd March 2020

Day 27   Fertilising Daily Life

Prayer brings nourishment and fecundity to daily life. Life without prayer lacks the vital ingredient to make it truly flourish and grow. In a previous reflection I mentioned Brother Lawrence who was set to work in the monastery kitchen. It was a mindless and dull life for him at first, a life he strongly resisted. The change came when it was fertilised with prayer, it then came alive with purpose, meaning, and wonder. Tasks that before were just mindless repetition he was just intent on getting done, became a means of joyous communication with the Presence of God, of Holy Communion.

Jean Pierre de Caussade, in the 18th century, coined the phrase: The Sacrament of the Present Moment. This is what prayer does, it makes each moment of life a sacramental moment, moment of grace, a moment of Holy Communion. The Prayer of Christ flows through life, fertilising it with holy love and divine purpose. When we are open to that prayer, become a part of it, and allow it to become a part of us, life changes and becomes alive with the presence of love and communion. Our joining with this prayer brings meaning and purpose to all our daily routines and commitments. Our joining with this prayer gives life an intimacy and immediacy that makes even the most mundane tasks an opportunity for profound connection. The mystics of all the religious traditions have all daringly spoken of this connection as making love with God and life. It is to experience a sense of intimacy and immediacy with God and life.

The praying of a mantra is a wonderful way of making this connection with the Prayer of Christ that flows through life, and helping us experience the intimacy and immediacy of God’s Presence in our daily tasks and routines. Just pausing a moment to pray our mantra before beginning our next task places it in a different context; in the context of divine interaction. Prayer is not just a time of formal devotion, prayer is life lived with the immediacy of God. Taking a shower, drinking tea, working at the computer, mowing the lawn, doing the shopping, whatever we are engaged in, is all prayer if we are open to God’s immediate and intimate presence. Our mantra helps us to do that.

……………………………

When You visit
I am often distracted.
Like Martha, I flit about
here and there,
rather than being still,
enjoying your presence.
You whisper tenderly,
embrace lovingly,
pour upon me
undivided attention.
But I drift away
and am only partially present.
I long to hold You
in the center of my being;
to be a space
where Your Beauty dwells;
to be the canvas
on which Your Image emerges;
but I guess it is too much
for me to bear.
I disappear into
the banal and superficial,
and then return
to find I have missed You.
Oh, but the fragrance You leave behind,
the fragrance You leave behind.

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Meditation 22

 In today’s reflection on praying a mantra in daily life I wrote of Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s beautiful phrase “the sacrament of the present moment”. All of this praying stuff is really about one thing: knowing God is with us in the present moment; knowing that there is not a moment that passes that is not shared with God. Whether our prayer is meditation, praying a mantra in daily life, chatting with God while having a cuppa, praying through reading the scriptures, or saying set prayers, whatever way we pray it is all about meeting God’s Presence in the present moment, in every moment. It is so easy to compartmentalise life, to divide it up into work, leisure, worship, prayer, etc.

But true prayer teaches us that life is all one. We do not have times that are spiritual and times that are ordinary, because everything is spiritual, everything is about God. Our times of prayer are not our spiritual moments in the day or week – they are reminders that every moment in the week is spiritual because we live, work, play, and pray in the continual presence of God. Everything is an extension of our prayer, and flows back into prayer.

That is why when we meditate; when we stop, sit quietly, be still, breathe, and say our mantra, it does not matter if it is only for a short while, because the remainder of the day becomes a continuation of that prayer. What that short time of meditation does is remind us to be aware of God’s Presence in all that is to come, and allow the day to be continual moments of Holy Communion. Our times set aside for prayer are a prequel to living each experience in life prayerfully. Just a few minutes of meditation can change the course of the day dramatically.