I mentioned a few posts back how I’m using The SALT Project’s Lenten study this season. It’s not too demanding – a reading on Ash Wednesday, then one for each Sunday and a few extra during Holy Week. There’s a Gospel reading paired with one of Mary Oliver’s poems. I’ve wanted to read more of her writing so this has been a good introduction for me. After the readings there is a short mediation then a few action items to consider throughout the week.
When I read the one for Ash Wednesday, I was already in the place of purging and letting things go, which was the action item for the following few days.
Last Sunday, as I was preparing to go for a long hike, the action item suggested I “schedule a wilderness walk in solitude or with a friend, listening for how God may be calling [me] to change.”
Yesterday as I opened the pamphlet I thought, “there is no way this one will connect as deeply as the first two have.” For this week it suggests I “try fasting from technology for an hour, a day, or the whole week.”
Friday night I was telling Brad how I think I’m addicted to my phone, how I need to take a break from it and social media, how it’s taking up too much of my time.
Each week when I sit down to use this devotional, I get confirmation of something I’ve already decided I need to do. Make space. Get outside. Reduce technology. I had already thought about making some kind of change or taking a certain action and then I am affirmed of that choice in what I read.
The Universe is amazing like that.
I think it all comes back to paying attention, to knowing yourself, to being present. I’ve made some changes in my life over the last 2 years that have really helped me pay attention, learn more about myself and practice presence.
- I start each morning in silence and solitude. I get up early to make sure I have time to read and breathe and wake up slowly. I read poetry and blessings and reflections. I write in my journal. I create collages. I breathe the names of those on my heart and mind. I light a candle. I cover myself in a quilt made by my great-grandmother. I am still.
- I walk and run without earbuds more and more. I used to listen to podcasts or music anytime I stepped out the door to move my feet. I don’t do that as much anymore. I enjoy listening to the sounds around me – birds, cars, dogs barking, leaves blowing in the wind, the clicking of Denali’s nails on the pavement. I also listen to the sounds within me – my internal narrative, my wonderings, my reflections of the day and expectations of what’s coming up.
- I listen to music that feeds my soul on my morning drive to work. I used to listen to the news or a podcast recapping the latest in national and world politics. However, I found that was causing me stress and I didn’t like that. So, I changed things up. I listen to The Brilliance or Sandra McCracken or India Arie or All Sons and Daughters. I listen to music that connects me to God. I listen to music that often brings me to tears. I listen to music that helps me become more compassionate toward those around me.
- I go to yoga, which reminds me to pay attention to my body and my breath. I find that I consciously breathe a lot more now – at work, in church, in the car, at home. I take deep breaths. I listen to the wave-like sounds that come with a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Yoga also gives me the tools to pay attention the aches and pains in my muscles – to stretch throughout the day, to roll my neck slowly and consciously, to sit up straighter.
When I take time to be still or move with awareness or breathe deeply, I’m practicing presence. And when I practice presence, I notice more, especially the little things. And when I notice more I see signs of confirmation all around me.
God didn’t create us hoping we would have difficult lives. God is for us.
The Universe doesn’t want us to struggle day after day. The Universe is for us.
When I slow down and pay attention, I begin to see the signs all around me – confirmation of the choices I’ve made.
I wonder what next Sunday will hold?