By Pastor Paula Burchill
OK, so I really don’t think meditation is stupid. It’s just that it keeps coming up—among the writers I most respect who say how important it is to be still, among the faithful I know who start their days off being quiet—and I keep realizing that I’m being nudged to do it, likely by the Spirit, but something keeps holding me back.
Maybe I do think it is stupid. I’m not exactly the sit around and do nothing type of person—I’m way too busy. And besides, my mind just wanders and I would rather be exercising or cleaning up the kitchen or binge watching something on Netflix, really anything besides being still and listening and paying attention.
That is how I define meditation—being still, breathing, paying attention, listening. And if I think about it that way, in theory I totally get why people do it and why it means so much to them. When Elijah was scared and wanted to know God would be with him, God didn’t come to him in any of the whirlwind of activity that was all around him, God was there in the sound of sheer silence. Psalm 46 says, “be still and know that I am God.”
I’ve been examining what it is that holds me back from meditating. I have talked to a lot of people, and most of us tend to agree that we don’t have time and our minds wander. It also involves breathing, and if you are reading this, you likely already know how to do that, so it seems like what is the point? But given that mediation has been around since humans have been around, and that listening to God is so important, there must be a reason the Spirit keeps nudging me to meditate.
Just for today, I have been trying to stop throughout the day, take a deep breath and ask, “what do I need?” It has made me realize that I don’t ask myself that very often–because it can be a scary question. Stopping and paying attention might make me have to think about something that is bothering me. And rather than face it, I would rather turn on Netflix and numb it. Or I might feel stupid because I don’t really know what I need. Or even worse, I might feel sad or angry or some other scary emotion that I would rather not have to deal with it. Can anyone relate?
But if I know anything about faith and grace and Jesus and the Spirit, I know that I’m not called to be numb—I’m called to pay attention. And I also know that the hard things are the things that save us. And I can pretend life isn’t hard and that everything is ok, but until I breathe and feel it and face it, it isn’t going to go away. There is no resurrection without death.
We have been reading Luke this fall and before Jesus does anything in Luke he prays. He stops and is still. I think that is what my busy life and probably this busy world needs. More of us to stop and be still—to meditate. To know that we can do hard things because we don’t do them alone. And maybe there is some level at which we just can’t know Jesus is with us unless we are still. Because there is a surrendering in mediation—a sense of trust. Be still. Even in the whirlwind of your life. Be still and know that Jesus is with you.