This morning in church I received more than I gave. For a mere two-dollar offering and two hours of my time, I was reminded that God is in charge of what grows when we humans sow seeds. After a few weeks’ absence, I was grateful to have pulled myself away from the New York Times Style section, put on a sun dress and lip gloss, kissed my studying husband goodbye, and made it out the door by 9:53 on a Sunday morning (when I’m usually still in my PJ’s). It was good for my soul to be there. Surrounded by a lot of people I don’t know and a few smiling friends, I felt part of a community. I prayed more deeply today than I’m normally able to in church. I always blame my inability on the bright lighting, the dress clothes, and the feeling of being watched. This morning I must have needed humility and God more than I needed to hold onto my excuses for not surrendering to prayer.
As I looked around, I wondered if my fellow parishioners rely on their belief in God as much as I do while, like me, not really knowing for sure if there is a God. I wondered if they were feeling overwhelmed by the pressure of work and life “to-do’s” and the immensity of big goals they hope to accomplish. Do those who come regularly feel calmer because they believe a greater power is here, available to us, at all times?
I can’t tell if it’s from drinking too much iced green tea or if I’m really experiencing anxiety, but lately I’ve been thinking I need to find some calm inside me. The doctor of a dear friend once refused to give her anti-anxiety pills until she changed the pace of her life. Good doctor, I thought at the time. Lately, I need to follow her prescription myself. My mind and my heart feel jam-packed during the week trying to make things happen – good things, fulfilling things, just a lot of things. At night, I’ve started dreaming about work, colleagues, papers shuffling around before me, and unread emails. This is my fear: “What if I don’t get it done? What if I can’t make it happen? What if I don’t succeed?”
The thing is, I find myself thinking there is only one “it,” one version of success. Today I was reminded that perhaps God’s ultimate design is unknown to me right now. So I do my best in the sowing and then let go. For me, this kind of trust is only possible when I give myself some down time – time to be instead of do.
On weekday mornings, I often take a walk before work and listen to sermons by Rob Bell or the Brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist. It grounds me in the deeper calm and bigger picture of Love. Their prayers remind me that I’m human, not the machine I expect myself to be. And I forgive myself for not doing things as well as I wish I could.
Save for sivasana at the end of yoga, I haven’t meditated on a regular basis in quite a while. I miss connecting intimately with God through breath, presence and an open heart. This weekend, I made time and I feel a bit healed. It feels similar to coming home at the end of a stressful day and resting in my sweet, strong husband’s hug. I completely lean on him, he makes me laugh and it all feels instantly better.
I’ve preached the being/doing balance to others many times without knowing how hard it was until I was put to the test. My apologies if I’ve done that to you. I do believe it is critical for our health, happiness and effectiveness in the world to regularly lean on some greater power while we take a break. I’m practicing right beside you.