“Soul Feast…”

“But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.”

John 4:32

I began taking a class yesterday on contemplative prayer.  This is a form of prayer in which we are called to be completely still for a period of time.  It is much different than the way I normally pray, taking my every thought and request to God.  I have come to realize that I spend most of my prayer time talking.  That is why this class interested me so much, it will teach me how to listen.

My first assignment was to learn this week how to practice mindfulness.  That means to live in the moment and be aware of God’s presence at every point during the day.  I was encouraged to spend 15 minutes this morning and 15 minutes this evening  being perfectly still, perfectly quiet, and living in that moment.  Sounds simple right??

Wrong!  It was incredibly hard.  Being physically still was the easy part.  However, quieting my mind was extremely difficult.  It kept jumping between events that happened yesterday or a week ago, all the way over to the things I need to accomplish today or this weekend.

Yes, to just sit and listen, to quiet my mind so that I might be aware of God’s presence was very difficult for me.  I guess that shows how much I really do need this class.  However, for the few minutes I was able to, I found that the practice provided me with some much needed peace and clarity.  To be able to sit and commune with the risen Savior does provide us with a “food” we know nothing about.  It is a soul feast in which our spirits are filled with His presence and nourished for the journey to come.  It is a form of power and energy with which we are not accustomed.  It can become, I can see, quite addictive if we stay with it.

I am sharing below a poem written by my teacher, the Reverend Dr. William Thiele, a pastor in the United Methodist Church in New Orleans.  After reading this poem yesterday, I was more than convinced to try this prayer method.  Maybe it will be an encouragement to you as well.

Be still my friends!

If I Miss Seeing

If I miss seeing the 

the first opening

of the pink lotus blossom

in the early dawn

of its very first morning,

on my way to see

my first hospital patient 

of the day,

then

I’ll probably miss seeing

the expression on his face

as he waits to place his heart

in a surgeon’s hands too.

And if I miss seeing

the way the moon at dawn

still catches light

in its three-quarter radius

just above our cypress swamp,

on my way to see

my first hospital patient

of the day,

then

I’ll probably miss

hearing the way his throat catches

as he tells me he can’t pray too well

’cause his tears always take over

after the second word

until he can’t speak at all.

Don’t you see?

If I’m not here in every moment

of utter stillness in the bayou,

of morning dew pooling on the red caladiums,

of dawn falling across the grass,

I won’t be there

when a moment that means everything

comes from the mouth

or rises in the face

of the ones I will love today.

If I’m not here right now

with all my being,

I won’t be there either.

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