This morning I held the face of my first friend’s sister in my heart. I asked, “Lord, what do you want me to remember?” and released the question into the quiet flow of my thoughts.
This is what came to me. In my mind’s eye I saw my friend Brook going into her room and “borrowing” her record player. We were about 13. Being liked by girls seemed to demand learning new skills. Our mastery of slingshots and no hands bike riding just was not going to cut it.
Girls liked to dance so we were practicing the Bop. We were listening to one of those classics like “Tutti Fruiti.” At one point Brook got off balance and fell to the floor. He started laughing. I laughed so hard I had to sit down. There we both were, aspiring to be “cool,” sitting on the floor roaring. Then we got up and danced some more.
I am not sure what I thought then, but this morning I pondered the thought that when we are learning new skills, we are likely to end up dancing the dance of the elephants. But that is OK. This has been going on since we first tried to crawl. It has not been lethal yet. So laugh, get up and practice some more.
Who is on first? You may remember the Abbot and Costello skit about who is on first. Though humor, the question is a good one. Who is on first when we meditate.
A secular friend of mine said that she found “relief from everyday noise” when she meditated. When I shared with her how meditation allows me to gain new insights about my life and relationships, she smiled and said, “Yep, happens to me too.”
“Do you feel that you receive gifts of insight?” I asked.
“On, yes,” she said, “and they are often beautiful. That is one of the reasons I take time to do it. I believe these insights are a gift I give myself.”
“Personally, I believe that what I experience as a gift is a gift and what I experience as the product of my own efforts is a product of my own efforts.” She smiled as I added, “The gifts I receive are one of the reasons I believe there is a God.”
So when you meditate who is on first? Yourself? God?
The other day I had lunch with an old friend. He is a remarkable man, one who has lived generously. He is facing one of the nasty forms of cancer. Yesterday was a good news day. His eyes were bright, full of life and his smile spectacular. We were simply together eating good Vietnamese food and happy for the time we shared.
Several times our conversation touched on wellsprings of divine intention and the Spirit drew us together in a remarkable way. As a professor he has a very active, analytical mind. These days I say to him often, “Let yourself just know what you know. This moment of Unity between us and with God is Holy. God is not a belief. God is a person we experience.”
When we parted he said, “Namaste.” That means literally, “I bow before the divine in you.” Often a formalized greeting in Hindu culture, he meant it in the liberal sense. He allowed himself to know what he knows, a wondrous thing to do.
Meditation is a universal human capacity. It is a form of prayer common to all spiritual people including those with no particular faith system..
The question that separate one form of meditation from another is “What is the purpose?”
A common answer is “disengagement from our lives.” Many people do experience their lives as being a bit “too much.” They celebrate the relief meditation gives. I am one of those who deeply appreciate the sense of resting, “floating apart from the stream of my own consciousness” as one friend put it.
For me, meditation is cultivating the art of listening for God’s voice. I experience an intelligence beyond my conscious control, an intelligence that is caring, restoring and purposeful. Some call this type of prayer “resting in the arms of God.” In Psalm 131 David wrote,
“But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.” Ps. 131:2
People who meditate can experience such rest. One possibility so such rest is to hear God healing word, embrace the voice of eternal wisdom and engage in our live’s new possibilities. If you meditate already, when you experience distancing from the press of the daily churn of our minds, ask, “Lord, when have I seen your love lived today?” and listen. Experience for yourself what happens.