Holy Week reminds us of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. While many of us have been sacrificing or stripping things away this season, as a way to walk more closely with God, sometimes those sacrifices are not welcome or our choice. Where is God in the midst of our unwilling and unplanned sacrifices?
Sometimes it’s an itch. Sometimes it’s the cat jumping up next to me. And sometimes it’s the beep beep beep of a truck backing up outside. I get interrupted when I try to meditate.
This used to annoy me.
This annoyed me for years.
As I try—and I do try—to consciously reflect on my many blessings in life, I sometimes manage to remember that one of these luxuries is that sometimes I get some time to myself. (Many people don’t.)
Like lots of us who are still in our income-earning and child-raising years, I can find that my “me time” gets interrupted or imposed upon. A poor night’s sleep or a sick child or a dead car battery can rearrange my plans on a busy day –even during a pandemic year—and I can get to feeling like this is a sacrifice. And so, in a moment of calm I don’t want to be interrupted.
But not long ago I figured out something. As I pray, that itchy nose or that beep beep beep comes along right as my attention has started to wander. The more I notice this, the more certain I am that it’s true. What that sneezy snuffley cat does for me is “catch” me, before I’ve even realized that my meditative thoughts have settled instead on my grocery list. (or on my petty annoyance over something that happened yesterday. or last year.)
What these interruptions are, instead of impediments on my way to greeting god, are actually His gentle taps on the head—stopping me, and refocusing me. And He always does it right on time.
Sometimes, I can recognize these interruptions, refocus, and occasionally even “break on through to the other side.” It happens once in a while! It might happen more if I were a more consistent meditator. But when I do experience that glorious calm, I know the assurance it brings can’t come from external measures. (oh wait, my phone just chinked. darn it, I thought I’d turned that thing off.)
And then, in those fleeting times when I know I can handle any little thing life throws at me, I can still get blindsided – some impediment I’m not prepared for, and haven’t thought of, can come loudly flapping up like a startled bird. or more usually it’s my boss, or (gasp, maybe even) my spouse with some ephemeral thing which shatters my peace but which I have to address. Although recently I’ve realized that this too is God interrupting me. He’s diverting me from thinking that what I can handle is dependent on a serene outer environment. Which is just not true. God invites me back to that earlier-morning frame of mind, the one I’m still unpracticed in but which on my very very very best day has me thanking my backed-up toilet for changing my expectations for my day and for myself, and for showing me in the mirror that my relationship with Him/it/the flood is my relationship with myself. And how certain God is that I can do better.
COLLECT OF THE DAY
O God, you have called us to be your children, and have promised that those who suffer with Christ will be heirs with him of your glory: Arm us with such trust in him that we may ask no rest from his demands and have no fear in his service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
LISTEN TO PODCAST "THE PATH OF GREAT SUFFERING"
Click below to listen Richard Rohr, in conversation with Paul Swanson and Brie Stoner, respond to listener questions on suffering and brokenness.
WATCH TEDX TALK "HOW MINDFULNESS CAN HELP YOU TO LIVE IN THE PRESENT"
Click below to watch Rev. Takafumi Kawakami, Deputy Head Priest at Kyoto’s Shunkoin Temple, inspire us to slow our frantic lives to stay true to the present.
Click on the link below to purchase today's suggested read: How I Found God in Everyone and Everywhere: An Anthology of Spiritual Memoirs.