“Find a quiet place and a comfortable chair. Sit down, don’t cross your legs, rest your hands palms upward and close your eyes. Invite Father to presence Himself with you. Concentrate on your breathing. Centre yourself. Still your mind, focus on Jesus, listen to the rhythm of your breathing”…
The roar of an early morning snore nearly makes me fall off my chair. Am I doing this right? Am I sticking to what I learnt on the Soul Spark course? Why did I fall asleep? Are eight hours’ sleep no longer enough? I know, change tack; I reach for my Bible and read about Lazarus, and decide to meditate on the story of his resurrection by Jesus. That’s better! Five minutes in and I am beginning to sense… “Meet me on the corner when the lights are going down and I’ll be there, I promise I’ll be there”. Lindisfarne, 1970s hit in the U.K, on a loop in my head. I am being attacked by ear worm and it will not go away. Lazarus, Mary and Martha fade away. I wonder, as I consider the Matrix, if I could suck the ear worm out of my head in much the same way as Neo had the insect tracking device sucked from His stomach. I consider the vacuum cleaner; maybe I could suck it out through my nose.
Lazarus is not working for me; maybe Zacchaeus and creative contemplation will help me glean something from God today. I decide to be one of the disciples. In my mind I work my way into the crowd scene, smelling the air, feeling the heat and beginning to get into the story. Zacchaeus always reminds me of Miss Clarke, my junior school teacher. I see her sitting, relaxed on a sunny Friday afternoon, chair moved away from the desk, cross-legged, bringing gospel stories alive in ways no one has ever bettered. The moment has gone; Zacchaeus and Miss Clarke dissolve in a Star Trek shimmer. What now Lord? Have I sinned? No answer. Should I give up? Go out? Silence.
As this is my day off from work, the default setting is to go mountain biking in the woods. Today I decide instead to go on an old mining trail. Pedalling along I stumble on a quiet, once industrial valley, the silence is stunning. Ahead of me a dam holds back a small lake, the sun glints on the surface. I take a closer look; beneath the surface I see tyres, and, on the bottom, what looks like an old lawn mower. I can’t even find God in nature today.
The U.K organisation Soulspark run courses in Britain offering an introduction to various meditation and contemplation techniques. (Not sure about if they run State-side) . I liked this course because it offers a simple and accessible way into the techniques mentioned above, but without using technical language or involving high financial cost! plus it is Evangelical/Protestant friendly. I am discovering that Ignatius of Loyola has a great deal to offer modern Christians of all persuasions. Margeret Silf offers the easiest way into the subject of discernment and hearing God. I would recommend her excellent book Landmarks as a good entry point.