Sunday, April 27, 2008

Accepting the Cup of Now

After years of practice, you would think Centering Prayer would be easy. After all, it's so simple -- see a thought or feeling bubbling up? Let it go. Here's another? Let it go. But what if it's important? Let it go.

This morning I was reading a wonderful Anne Lamott passage, about teaching a Sunday School class for pre-schoolers. She was explaining the Wailing Wall to them, describing the practice of writing your concerns down and stuffing them into the cracks of the wall. The lesson, she said, was about letting go.

"What does letting go mean?" I asked. The boys looked around at one another, worried as cats. "Let me show you," I said, and gripped two colored markers, one in each hand. "what if, when we go in for our snacks, someone offers me a juice box, and I won't let go of these pens, even though I'm thirsty?" I told them to watch, and you'd have thought I was doing a magic trick as I slowly unfurled my fingers and let the markers drop.

We all thought hard about this. "So why would you want to let go?" I asked.

One of the six-year-olds answere, "Because you're thirsty?"

"Bingo!" I cried. "See, sometimes, if you're lucky, you get to a point where you're sick of a problem, or worn down by tinkiering with it, or clutching it. And letting it go, maybe writing it down and sending it away, buys you some time and space, so maybe freedom and humor sneak in -- which is probably what you were praying for all along."

It's such a perfect illustration. Because we are always thirsty for spirit. But we get so caught up in holding on to what we WERE doing, or preparing for what we might want to do next, that we don't see the cup of life that is being offered to us in each moment.

we are so thirsty
for your peace and presence;
so hungry for your love.

Help us to set aside
the concerns of the past.
Help us to let go
of our plans for the future.

Help us to stop
if only for a moment;
to take a drink
from the cup of now.

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