Early every morning, I meditate and pray as part of my devotional. Sometimes, I sit on a dining chair in my garage. I set a cup of coffee on a makeshift table to my left and my mom’s, plastic, lavender-colored meditation beads (rosary) to my right. The beads help me keep a focus on a mantra, on a prayer, on a quiet state of mind; otherwise, my thoughts operate like a pinball machine: ping, ding, ding-ding-ding,TILT!
I hadn't used beads since childhood. I was taught their purpose and use in catechism. When my mom, Marian, passed away in 2010 (she was 88 years old), I found all kinds of beads (rosaries) around her home: big, round, Swarovski crystals tethered together with golden chains, blessed by the Pope, himself; small, polished, teak wood beads, placed along a strand of sturdy leather. I chose the plastic, lavender-colored set threaded together with old, thick string. Simple and to the point. I like things that way.
Yet after my mom passed away, my grieving thoughts were difficult to contain, even in prayer. My heart weighed heavily before her death, in part, because of divorce and the subsequent fracture of MANY relationships akin to the marriage. After mom died, well, I felt like an egg, ready to crack open from a wellspring of tears – which I was already shedding, nonstop (why can't I turn them off, like a faucet?).
Then I came across the book: Eat, Pray, Love. (Elizabeth Gilbert, 2006). I read the book in one weekend because I could so relate to the author’s personal experience (really funny) and emotional angst (really funny, but not deprecatory). There’s a part in the book where Ms. Gilbert is lying on her bathroom floor, uncontrollably and silently crying while her husband is sleeping in the adjacent bedroom. She simply begins speaking with God.
As I read, I was waiting for her to share some luminous, prophetic direction granted by the Almighty. Instead, she hears a still, small voice suggesting that she go back to bed and rest. I laughed so hard. The beads come in when she travels to India, visiting the Ashram where Ms. Gilbert learns HOW and WHY to meditate (more humor).
Fictional or no, the story helped me to understand that I’m not the only one with such distracting thoughts (sleep, too) when I meditate. The beads help me to focus on God, on gratitude, on praying for others, on nature (versus a grocery list) and on dancing. Yes, dancing.
When I’m struggling with contention, I envision donning an evening gown, appearing svelte and gorgeous, while easily stepping to a waltz with whomever the discord is arising (male or female, also dressed for the occasion). LIKE A MOVIE, the music and dancing just pops into my head. I SEE that we are easily and beautifully traveling about the dance floor; no talking, no predisposition, no audience, IN STEP and IN AGREEMENT.
I have many more examples of meditative backdrops which POP into my thoughts as I send easy, breezy blessings TO other people. My initial problem was ALLOWING the backdrops to play out with good, wholesome, basic energy. For example, at times, I remember a fabulous, childhood event occurring at the home in which I grew up. Other times, I’m among people whom I’ve not seen in years, in a wonderfully arboreal, serene place, as we enjoy a picinic together.
Mostly, I can’t believe I actually SEE and FEEL the peace, the love, the solution, no matter how animated and silly it appears in my head. Toward the end of my meditations, I let EVERYTHING negative (perceived or real) GO away by visualizing a rubber raft filled with my worries (fully biodegradable) all boxed up like parcels, floating out into the sea's horizon, never to be seen again. Poof! Where was I? Time for some coffee.
I begin each day with thanks (for my roasty, toasty comforter).
Shhhhh. Do you hear it? The small noises indicating the neighborhood rising: little dogs yapping because the newspaper delivery driver made a bank shot off the front porch with the day’s rolled up news; occasional, screeching tires emanating from the main drag behind the subdivision; sirens;aircraft; people talking to one another as they meet during their morning walk (like clockwork).
After meditating, the next thing I do is journal. Write. Scribble random thoughts. Doodle, until I make a complete paragraph. I’ve been doing this since I was about 12 years old. Years ago, author and speaker, Becky Tirabassi, appeared at a women’s conference hosted by the church I was attending. She helped to refine my devotional journaling with one of her books entitled: Wild Things Happen When I Pray: http://www.alibris.com
Of course, back then, I desired wild things to happen when I prayed for a new job as the CEO for a major corporation; for an exotic trip to the Orient; for a college degree by osmosis and to wear a size three, but Mrs.Tirabassi suggested STRATEGIC writing using the acronym, PART: Praise; Admission; Requests; Thanks.
I’m not going to go into detail, but I can convey that ALL of my prayer requests (before and since the book) have been answered, exceeding my WILDEST, finite, dreams. Now, I’m not sharing this to suggest YOU read these books (there exists a multitude on the topic) or to use prayer and meditation as a panacea for whatever ails you. That's just what I do. I’m aware that we all experience some heavy transitions and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I'd be remiss, for I’ve neither walked in your shoes nor am I familiar with your beliefs.
Nonetheless, I quietly and gratefully accept these gifts from others as I GRADUALLY become more grounded. In so doing, I'm aware of the BIG, beautiful, cosmic picture while taking care of my SMALL part in all of it, to the best of MY ability, that day, that hour, that minute.
To the best of my ability, I recently baked some COOKIES for a potluck. No problemo. Costco has a TUB filled to the brim with chocolate chip cookie dough -- I don't even have to follow a recipe (like I would, anyway). I bought two tubs of the loaded-with-chocolate, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth dough: One for ME and one for everyone else. I wanted to SHARE the nano-shred of culinary talent I possess. Dozens of cookies came out pretty well, according to many taste tests.
As for the other tub of dough, well, it disappeared somewhere into my gastronomic universe (all the more reason for jogging). That was my small part, as lots of other folks brought an array cookies, too. The weight of the potluck world didn't rest on my shoulders (rather my hind side) when I chose to pitch in WITH the others. That's the point.
In light of the Thanksgiving holiday (which falls on or near my birthday), I’m open to a double dose of abundance and cheer. Allow me to momentarily revel.
I’d like to invite you to a quiet, five-minute celebration (if you’re so inclined) as you create YOUR list of TEN things for which YOU are grateful and TEN things YOU desire (they don’t have to correspond). It can be written on a napkin, on a scratch pad or a special piece of paper. Just write and wallow in the surprise FEELING of abundance and put it in a file, or a special box or on your computer. LEAVE IT, move on to the next list, and so on. Over time, you’ll casually encounter YOUR abundance memoirs. You’ll be AMAZED. If you’re willing to openly share your GRATITUDE, feel free to comment.
My lists are NEVER this neat; they’re either swirly and colorful, or pure chicken scratch, but for the article:
- My son Homework Done
- The Surf-Mobile Surfing / Skiing
- Autumn Weather Paint House
- Great Health Run > 10K races
- Foil pans / ovens Perfectly cooked turkey
- Consolation Families I know
- Clean Garage Craig's List
- Neighbors/Friends Lots of Laughter
- Camera Keen eye
- Mashed Potatoes Someone Else Cooks
In closing, I’d like to share a poetic blurb I wrote on scrap paper this morning.
Sooo, have a happy Turkey Day; always thank the cook.
Bow your head and pass the bread; take another look.
The past is gone, let it be; today begins anew.
Share your lot, love isn’t bought; it’s free for everyone, now, too.
If you eat too much, count it well; a blessing good and true.
Look in the mirror for it gets clearer, the cornucopia is you.