For the last couple of days, I’ve been living with fear. As usual, I’m frightened about something that is beyond my control, and the answer is prayer. I’m not the kind of person who just naturally turns to prayer, you know? I’m the kind of person who knows exactly what the right thing to do is in any given situation, and I’ll tell you about that, or yell at you about it, and get bossy and manipulative about making sure you do what I know is right, and resentful if you don’t. Sometimes, that’s how I can TELL I’m frightened – I get all controlling and I scream at people. I want to DO something, and it’s hard for me to remember that praying IS doing something. The only thing.
I’ve spent a lot of time returning to the Serenity Prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change …” And breathing. One of the teachers in my life says ANYTHING I try to do consciously is fighting, and what I need to do is just, once an hour or so, when I remember, pay attention to my breath. Not DO anything about it – just pay attention to it. It does make tension drain out through my feet somewhere.
Another one of my teachers says to me (I need to hear it often): “I wish you could see this as part of the natural order of life, and not as stressful and catastrophic.” When I first started hearing it, I just wanted to shout, “You’re not LIVING with this!!! It is F***ing stressful and catastrophic!” But he DOES know. And he’s right. When I notice myself and say, “This is as stressful and catastrophic as you allow it to be,” the stressful and catastrophic drains away too.
I do an ocean meditation. I’m on the ocean. Sometimes in a bathing suit, sometimes not. Floating on my back. A starfish float, I think little kids call it, except that’s face-down and I’m face-up. On top of the ocean. If you’re going to float like that, you have to relax everything – once your body gets tense, things start sinking. So the meditation involves staying relaxed so I float on top of the ocean.
And the ocean varies. Sometimes it’s calm and blue and flat, like the
Last week, on Wednesday, Ellie posted on silence at Meditation Matters. I’ve gone back and read it several times this weekend. I have a friend who was an English major: loves poetry and writes it, and loves Rumi the best. Ellie’s post includes this: The great Sufi poet Rumi wrote, "Only let the moving waters calm down, and the sun and moon will be reflected on the surface of your being."
That’s a great line for someone who meditates and craves oceans.
I was thinking about it tonight, a little while ago, when I read it again. I thought, “I just need to remember to still the waters.” And then I remembered – that’s not MY job. There’s someone else who stills waters. There’s someone else who leads me beside still waters.
22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, 23and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. 24They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. 25He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’ – Luke 18:22-25, NRSV
So, it’s MY job to let go of all this, pray, and let God handle it. To pray, to be calm and still like the waters, inside, and to be loving to others as I go through the night and the day.