Day 35 Don’t just do it, pray it!
Praying the mantra, as I have repeated a number of times in these reflections, is about inviting God’s loving presence into the whole of our day. That presence is already there but through prayer we connect with it more deeply, and allow our awareness of that presence to grow and deepen. We live with this incredible treasure that for much of the time we forget is there and the mantra reminds us of it.
We often feel isolated and alone when we face the world and it often gets on top of us. We live life thinking that we are ill equipped to deal with the daily hurdles and obstacles that life often brings our way, and feel inadequate when dealing with them. But we are not alone and we all have an incredible source of love and strength to draw from.
A great saint form the 15th Century, Teresa of Avila, once said that all our troubles come from making the mistake of living as if God were absent, when God is in fact incredibly close. The energy of God’s presence, love, mercy and grace is constantly flowing through our lives, we simply have to be open to it. We don’t do anything alone we do it with God, for God, and in God’s strength.
This is what it means to live prayerfully. We make our whole lives a prayer, from making the tea in the morning, to making important decisions during the day; from feeding the pets, to dealing with what the day brings. It is all lived in the context of prayer, for God, with God, and in God’s strength. Of course very few of us are spiritual giants and most of us will regularly forget and find ourselves living as if God is absent. That is ok. We should not beat ourselves up over it (see yesterday’s reflection); when we find ourselves doing this we stop, smile, say our mantra and remember the great treasure within us.
One of the main reasons that many people struggle to maintain a regular prayerful practice is because we feel inadequate at prayer and become disillusioned. We often feel our faith is not strong enough. Christ says to us “Don’t worry, I do the praying for you, I do the praying within you.” Keep it simple. A short mantra you return to again and again will keep you open to this prayer, this inner treasure, in the course of daily life. And when we forget, we smile and begin again.
I trust the mystics when they say:
Sit on your prayer stool and you sit with God.
Be still, be silent, and your soul will awake.
Breathe in, breathe out, the Holy is that close.
Walk in the woods, on the hills, in the valleys,
And God’s sacred energy flows through your veins.
That even in crowds on busiest street,
We all walk around shining like the sun.
I so rarely glimpse what the mystics all know
But I trust what they see and my heart is aglow.
In today’s primary reflection I quoted Teresa of Avila, who says that we make the mistake of living as if God were absent; she also said we often prayer as if God were absent as well. It is so true, certainly for me. We meditate, or pray, seeking God’s presence, trying to sense God’s presence, as if God needed to be found. In my early days of Christian faith the church I belonged to often spoke of us finding God, finding Jesus; as if Jesus was absent and needed to be tracked down. Teresa of Avila reminds us that God is right there, wherever we are; so close that we often miss him because we are busy looking further into the distance. We can be so busy looking, searching, that we miss what is right under our very nose. Only recently I spent about 20 minutes trying to find my car key, blaming other people for moving it, going through pockets, turning my study upside down; only to find I had them in the pocket of the jacket I was wearing! We do the same thing with God, we go in search of God’s presence, wondering why we can’t seem to reach God; when God is there right beside us, before us, behind us, and within us all along.
When we meditate we simply have to accept that God is present, that we don’t have to seek God’s presence, because we are daily living within it. It is we who are often absent, seeking God elsewhere. I sometimes think God taps us on the shoulder and whispers, “just look in the mirror!” God is right here. Just sit still, pray the mantra, move your beads, and breathe God in, and out.