20
May

Slow Reader Friday: Christian Meditation…

Grief

Happy 4th Anniversary to the darling daughter and her hubby, aka, the DSL! Hope you have a joyous remembrance of that lovely Texas day 4 years ago and a fun celebration!

The MaryAnn In Progress May 2016 Book of the Month is Christian Meditation by James Finley. Finley studied under the much-vaunted (at least in the “spiritual formation/discipline” circles) Thomas Merton. Thus, Finley has authored a book with a great deal of insight from Merton.

I read this book when we were studying Breath Prayer and Centering Prayer. Both forms of prayer are difficult for someone like me, who tends to be a thinker, analyzer, and processor when praying. Both of the aforementioned prayer styles are about emptying your mind as much as humanly possible and allowing God to interact with us in whatever way He wishes.

Finley delves deep into these types of prayer, not once, not twice, but repeatedly. Why? Not because he can’t think of anything else to write, but because these kinds of prayers require a great deal of practice (literally) before one begins to see “fruitfulness” from them.

This was true of me, too.

It took 3 weeks of trying both types of prayer before I began understanding what God could do with my empty mind. (Perhaps semi-empty is truthful!?!) Finley points out that it is not about what happens during this time so much as it is about surrendering oneself to God in prayer and acknowledging that God already knows what we’re thinking. He has no need of our thoughts since He’s the Creator of the Universe.

What He would like, however, is a relationship with His “kids.” Thus, if we simply offer up our prayers and our still and empty minds, He is pleased. If we can sustain this empty state for quite some time, He often rewards such stillness with some pretty wild experiences! He’s not an “inside the box” kind of God, probably because He created the box!

Finley gives tips on how to sustain stillness such as sitting up straight. I asked my spiritual director why Finley stressed this (probably because I’m an eternal sloucher) and she said, “I don’t know.” That was not exactly the answer I had hoped for!

However, I did feel that the times I managed to sit up straight, I often felt like I was floating in a sea of water–and that is not the sensation I get when slouching! Since I’m a water-baby at heart, floating in a calm sea is a very peaceful state for me and I can often hear the waves lapping around me and those waves reaching a shoreline off in the distance.

While I wouldn’t say this was my favorite HeartPaths book this year, I do recognize how Finley’s repetitiveness helped me get to that sea and other “destinations” that God wanted to carry me during centering and breath prayer. But guess what?

If you want to “swim” with me, the next few MIP books took me to the deep end of the “ocean” and are some of my favorites. Want to “dive” in with me?

Come on in. The “water’s” warm.

Monday’s Post: Is septentrional about a septic system?

You Might Also Like: Slow Reader Friday: Praying Your Experiences and Walking with the Lord

This entry was posted on Friday, May 20th, 2016 at 10:50 am and is filed under Slow Reader Friday. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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