Friday, January 23, 2009

When fog closes in...

We've been buried in fog for almost a week now: not the pretty photogenic kind, though occasionally that crops up. And not the London Pea Soup kind that makes it impossible to drive, just a kind of dull haze that thickens occasionally but mostly just saps the color from life.

It's a bit like living with depression, I think -- this strange overlay of enervating grayness -- and I'm certain it's what drove yesterday's desperate longing for color.

One of our daughters is in Southern California this month, and she called yesterday to say their skies had been overcast for two days and she was thrilled: she hadn't realized how much she missed the gray and the rain. As she is the only member of our immediate family to have been born and raised in the Northwest, I am not surprised to hear her express this preference -- and for the most part, it's a good foil for her sunny personality.

But we all have our gray days, and we all have those foggy periods when we feel trapped and restless with no clarity about the best way to proceed. It's easy in such times to get overwhelmed with a sense of failure, to feel there's no way out and the fog will never lift. Presumably this explains the popularity of FAILBLOG.org, the website which displays examples of the failure of others.

But it's also a perfect time to practice what Cynthia Bourgeault calls "The Welcoming Prayer."

"Can you feel yourself inwardly tightening and bracing? Stay with that sensation for a minute or two, exploring how it actually feels in your body. Are your shoulders tense? Is your breathing fast and shallow? Your stomach churning? See if you can even deliberately intensify these sensations.

"After a minute or so, consciously move in the opposite direction, still working directly with sensation. Un-brace, take a deep breath, and come down into your being. Soften inwardly. Open to the sensation of your own presence, and try to stay with that presence no matter what racket is going on in your mind. Keep returning consciously to that sensation of inner openness until you can feel a calmness beginning to return. if you are patient and firm, it eventually will. The aliveness of your "I AM" presence, sensed directly in this way, will eventually trump any mental or emotional trumoil that temporarily preempts it. Calm will return."

Watching Barack Obama, and knowing what is on his plate, I suspect he must have somehow incorporated a practice like this into his life. How else could he be so calm and warm and thoughtful when the job that faces him is so fraught with difficulty?

1 comment:

holyfoolishness said...

Thank you for reminding me of the "The Welcoming Prayer."