Keeping My Head Above Water

I have missed some days, but not many, in my Lenten practice of daily centering prayer. It is difficult for me to keep my mind on one word though. Even though my mind wanders quickly, as suggested, I gently remind myself where I am and what I’m trying to do… and it works for focusing me for another minute or so.

Images are powerful for me. Even when I listen to words, it helps me to see the words on the page. So I’ve been trying that out in my centering prayer, not looking at the word, but fixing an image instead of a word in my mind. Imagining God’s hand on my shoulder or a gentle hand in my hand, I can even feel that kind of image and touch.

In the last week the image has been one of keeping my head above water. There is much to consider in my life right now and it seems particularly pressing down on me some days and especially in the middle of some nights. Centering prayer in the middle of the day sets me apart from “real time” into that space that is beyond time as I go about the day.

Metaphors of rivers flowing and streams in the dessert are common in scripture.  I’m reminded of this poem, a Hopi elder prayer, that invites me to consider more.

This is the Hour…

“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.  And there are things to be considered . . .

Where are you living?

What are you doing?

What are your relationships?

Are you in right relation?

Where is your water?

Know your garden.

It is time to speak your Truth.

Create your community.

Be good to each other.

And do not look outside yourself for the leader.”

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, “This could be a good time!”

There is a river flowing now very fast.  It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.  They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination.  The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water.   And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.  At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, Least of all ourselves.  For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time for the lone wolf is over.  Gather yourselves!  Banish the word struggle from you attitude and your vocabulary.  All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

— attributed to an unnamed Hopi elder , Hopi Nation,  Oraibi, Arizona

I am pushing off from the shore—taking on new challenges in a new place—and right now my head is barely above water. However, the image in this prayer goes beyond that straining to keep myself afloat.

And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. 

We are not alone and this is holy ground.

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