Wednesday 25th March 2020

Day 29   Wave of Prayer

 Yesterday’s reflection explored prayer as putting up the sails to catch the wind of God’s Presence and allow it to carry us and guide us. A similar image is of prayer being a wave emerging from the ocean that is God. Like surfers on the sea, we have to connect with that wave of prayer and allow it to help us journey through life. We also have to be open to where that wave may lead us.

The early Celtic monks, who first brought the Christian faith to these shores, literally put themselves at the mercy of the oceans waves. Many of them set out from Ireland, Brittany or the Scottish Isles, and they would set sail on the ocean on their small boats called a Coracle. They would say to God: “I am at your mercy, wherever you take me I will go.” Then wherever the waves took them they would minister to the people there.

As those Celtic monks learned to trust and go with the flow of the waves of the ocean, so we need to learn to trust and go with the waves of prayer. Far too often we try and do it the other way around; we try and manipulate the waves of prayer, or we row against the current. We turn to prayer to support our action and decisions we have made, rather than allow our action and choices to flow from the wave of prayer running through our lives. I am no sailor or swimmer, but even for me it seems an obvious thing that the ocean supports us better when we seek to go with its flow rather than try to manipulate it.

To allow our actions and choices to flow from the wave of prayer it needs to be the bedrock of our daily life. We need to learn to recognise its flow and align ourselves with its current, so that action flows from prayer rather than prayer merely supporting action.

Praying our mantra at regular intervals during the day, even if only for a few seconds at a time, can help us set our sails to catch God’s breeze, and surrender our lives to God’s wave.

The Benedictine monk, Lawrence Freeman, says that our moments of prayer define our life, and the way we pray is the way we live. May we allow our daily prayer to define our day; praying a mantra is a simple and effective way to learn to do that.

………………………

It’s hard not to drown
When you imagine you are swimming
Thomas Merton
~
You have to trust the water
Become attuned to its tides
Surrender to the current
Be sensitive to its call.
For it is the ocean that carries you
And you don’t control its ebb and flow.
To believe it is down to your prowess
Is to misunderstand the way of grace –
It’s hard not to drown
When you imagine you are swimming.

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Meditation 24

 “It’s hard not to drown when you imagine you are swimming”. I love those words of Thomas Merton, when I first read them they struck me as so true. When we are confident that we are in control of things, that we know what we are doing, that we have it all sussed; it is then when things often come crashing down around us – I know this from bitter experience! I have said it a number of times in these reflections, and I will no doubt keep repeating it: when we sit to meditate we have to let God do the work and try to get out of the way. The minute we think have got a handle on it we can be well assured that we certainly have not.

Meditation is about surrendering our lives to God’s Holy Breeze, as todays primary reflection reminds us; surrendering to the waves of prayer and allowing them to carry us where they will. We get frustrated and disheartened with meditation because it does not go how we planned it to go. We get frustrated because we don’t quite seem to ever get it right. Well, the simple answer is to stop making plans about how it should go, and stop being concerned about getting it right. I say it is the simple answer, but it not easy to do! We are too used to planning and controlling life, trying to make it be like we want it to be. Prayer is the process of learning to let go, surrender, give up on our own plans and ideas, and trust with where the waves of God’s Loving Presence may take us.

No matter how hard we try in meditation (and I have tried over the years, believe me) we cannot control and dictate the path we think it should follow. It is down to God’s grace. We simply have to remind ourselves, again and again, that our part is to sit as still as we can, pray the mantra, move the beads, breathe in and breathe out. That’s it. The rest we have to, slowly but surely, learn to leave with God.