Sunday, December 20, 2009

Opening to the shift of Light

Today will be our last performance, and I confess I am relieved. Though I've loved these roles -- definitely the most fun parts I've ever played -- I'll be grateful not to find myself exhausted -- and running lines -- during my morning meditations.

I remember periods in our marriage, when my husband was working ridiculously long hours either learning a new role or trying to get a product out the door, when he would be terribly distracted and inattentive to me and to the girls. Being me, having come out of a difficult prior marriage, I had an unfortunate tendency to take it personally; it was only years later that I finally came to understand that these periods of inattention were purely work-related.

But I do remember how that feels, to be looked at but not seen, and I worry (though I know God is WAY more together than I was/am) that I am doing the same thing to God. I'm showing up, but I'm not really there.

... Which makes me think of this book I'm reading at my husband's behest. I should back up for a minute and say I've ALWAYS got at least two books going: the "spiritual" ones I read over my morning coffee before meditating, and the more secular ones -- usually a romance or a mystery -- that I read if I'm eating alone and at bedtime.

My husband's reading matter is almost exclusively non-fiction -- primarily historical or scientific (and often both) -- and he's in the habit of mocking my taste for fiction, always trying to get me to read (or listen to) something more edifying. About once a year he finds something which he insists I read -- though I don't always go along -- and this year it's the book he just finished, called The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible.

I'm sure I've mentioned here before that my husband is NOT strictly speaking a spiritual person (I suspect it's because he's naturally a good soul and doesn't need the constant reminders to behave). He's curious about it, and occasionally reads religious histories, but mostly he likes to poke a bit of fun at my pretensions, and I feel certain he bought this book for the same reason he took me to see Bill Maher's movie, Religulous: he has fond hopes that I will see the foolishness of all this, just as I harbor fond hopes that he will see "the light."

At any rate, he chuckled rather a lot while reading this book, and placed it firmly on my bedside table when he was done, so when I finished my latest junk novel I obediently picked this one up. And it's marvelous. I honestly wonder if this man, A.J. Jacobs, an Esquire magazine writer who decided for a lark to spend a year trying to live by all the rules in the Bible, will not convert more people to faith than any church or religious writer. Because what he is discovering as he walks through this year is that going through the motions of religion actually has a huge effect on you. And what's curious -- and wonderful -- is that the faith his actions are revealing or awakening in him is not the churchy hypocritical rule-based faith so many of us have rejected, but the same deeper abiding presence -- the now -- that we read about in Thomas Merton, Cynthia Bourgeault, Eckhart Tolle and Richard Rohr.

It's clear he started his walk as a joke, and as a clever opportunity to write a book exposing the foolishness of faith. But it's not turning out that way; rather it's like those two scientists in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink (the LAST book my husband had me read) who were studying facial muscles and learned that making angry faces can make you feel angry. Apparently going through the motions DOES make a difference, however empty the process may seem. Which might explain the rampant materialism and self-absorption of this country over the last few decades: however flawed church may be, we lost a lot when we stopped insisting on going there once a week.

All of which is a way of reminding myself that even when my mind wanders off into Neverland, it's still good that I show up for meditation every morning. Because even just showing up can make a difference. So I do my best to stay present, and I'm learning to forgive myself when I can't. But most of all I look forward to releasing that part of me that's anxiously rehearsing my lines. Because Christmas is coming, and I want to be as open as possible to that marvelous shift of light.


Maureen said...

Our huge storm (we have at least 2 feet) yesterday has had the effect of slowing everything down, bringing it to a stop, to a standstill of glorious quiet. How fitting that on this last Sunday in Advent, there is only the noise of the wind, the blue of the sky, the clearing, and now the brilliant light we await.

You will receive it, too, Diane.

M.L. Gallagher said...

HI Diane, Thank you for this post. I have taken to 'open eye' meditation. While I cook. Brush my teeth. Drive even! Okay, maybe not drive as I do need to pay attention.

What I'm trying to say is, my morning meditations are sparse and sporadic right now -- and you reminded me to forgive myself and to recommit to doing what is loving and healing and caring of me -- my morning meditation!

Oh. And BTW -- your husband's reading choices are similar to mine and yours are similar to my partners. :) Charle's is always trying to get me to read a 'whodunit' or spy thriller and I am forever suggesting a non-fiction piece for him!

M.L. Gallagher said...

Diane, I thank you again this morning. Your post reminds me (again) that I need to breathe, allow myself to sink into that wondrous place of stillness within and 'float deep'.