life is for coming to see,
one day at a time,
what life and God
are really about.
Life grows us more and more –
but only if we wrestle daily
with its ever-daily meaning for us.
God is calling us to more
than now –
and God is waiting
to bring us to it.
Joan Chittister, The Monastery of the Heart, 10-11
Routine and Dissociation
We love our routines. Sometimes we love them so much, we stop feeling them altogether.
We shower, eat breakfast, make the commute to work – all without even noticing our experience, without even living our own life.
Have you ever had that experience of driving somewhere familiar, and realizing when you get there that you don’t remember – not even a little bit – taking those familiar streets and turns? It always unnerves me a little, that I can be operating a moving vehicle while my mind is completely somewhere else.
Dissociation, my therapist calls it. The practice of habitually numbing your experience, consciously or unconsciously, as a method of survival.
Maybe we do it to give our overtaxed brains a little break. Maybe it’s the only chance our spirits get to fly off into fantasy or imagination. Maybe we just hate making that same drive all the time.
Missing the Golden Thread
When we’re so overwhelmed with worry and busy that we’ve relegated as much of our existence as possible to our unconscious, we’re dangerously close to something very dark and very deep.
When we’re missing the very moments of our lives, we’re missing a precious chance to feel the breath in our lungs, the sunshine on our shoulders and cheeks, the touch of strangers brushing past. These are not just small happenings of our days, they are fleeting glimpses of God’s presence that weaves its way through our lives like a shining golden thread.
This week, begin to drop some of those things that have filled up your conscious mind, so you can make room for those unexpected glittering flecks of God’s presence.
Drop your worry, so you can notice the trees that line the street you live on – their shape, the way they’re touching each other, the sound they make in the breeze. Drop your sense of busy-ness, so you can notice warm water against your hands and face, soft clothes, firm hugs. Be aware of this one moment in this one day.
The Duties of the Soul
Julian of Norwich wrote these beautiful words:
The soul must perform two duties:
The first is to always wonder and be surprised.
The second is to endure, always,
taking pleasure in God.
Indeed, God has called us to more than now. God has called us to continual wonder and surprise, to find delight and pleasure in every day we live.
– – –
What small experiences in your day remind you that God is present? How have you experienced taking pleasure in God? What gets in the way of your maintenance of a sense of wonder and surprise?
Have you read Joan Chittister’s new book, Monastery of the Heart, yet? You should. It’s beautiful and heart-opening and lovely. If the above quote doesn’t convince you, let me know and I’ll offer some more passages.