I finished my study with Professor Simcoe and took a couple weeks off, in that time I have sunk into some sort of fourth dimension that is one huge energy suck. Which is to say, I’m having a hard time getting motivation back. My friend and pastor Ash Meaney has helped me to develop a study on Contemplation and prayer. He gave me a few books and then I have to do the hard part, practice spiritual disciplines like silence and solitude. I’ll be doing a week long retreat in the middle of it to try and really get into some of the practices and I’m already dreading it. I like to check things off a list, book – read, Sabbath – observed, painting – painted, piece – written. I can do none of these things when I sit in silence while everything gets so damn loud. I had already completed the entire first book before I even started practicing some of the disciplines. Here’s a little example of the depth of my profound experience.
The Lord is my Shepherd. Shepherd, sheep, sheep or lambs, what’s the difference? The shepherd keeps them together in a field, protects them, lets them eat grass, I like the crunch noise they make when they rip the grass out. Don’t forget to order cat food. I don’t even know if I think this is true, we use that phrase like God is obsessed with us and he’s probably not. Sheep. Wool, I hate wool, can you imagine living in the twenties in England where everyone wore wool everything. I once heard of wool stockings, that’s my hell, absolute hell. Cat food, don’t forget. My farmer friend has sheep, or lambs, don’t know which, I avoid referring to them directly so as to avoid exposing my ignorance. Reel it in, The Lord is my shepherd. The Lord is my shepherd. Loooooord. I could go for a doze, this is relaxing. That’s not the point. The Lord is my shepherd. The farmer knew when his lambies were disconnected from there moms, he let them roam and then went over a couple times a day to bottle feed the babies. He must pay a lot of attention to know which baby goes with which mom and who is getting fed. That’s interesting, but then they butcher them for food. I guess the analogy breaks down, or does it! Maybe if I move around it will be better, I can practice the disciplines while hiking right? I’m pretty sure even God is bored right now.
I must say I was fairly warned about this. Ash had mentioned to me that the hardest part was going to be freeing my mind of distraction, of desiring outcomes from the experience, and that it would take herculean levels of mind control to muscle my mind into stillness and quiet.
The goal might be that after all this, that one might be able to say with full authenticity, ‘it is well with my soul’.
I went to yoga a couple of days later and when I was laying in savasana (which is the only reason to do yoga in the first place) and the 23rd Psalm was playing in my head. In a different place in mind I repeated, “the Lord is my Shepherd” and I connected to it. I don’t like saying that phrase, partly because I’m a self- sufficient feminist westerner fighting dependence, and my arrogance gets reactive when it’s close to the truth that I am dependent. I also don’t like it because I’m always internally wresting with God’s intervention in our world, mad that he doesn’t really take care of us so the 'Lord as shepherd' doesn't make sense to me. But I prayed the 23rd Psalm anyways.
I give myself a D+ for week one. Not great.