Yesterday a friend emerged from surgery; another one is going in tomorrow.
One friends left for her summer location; another left on an extended trip to see loved ones.
I drive south to reconnect with a long time friend. I drive east to share breakfast with my daughter. I go north to attend a meeting.
I have a conference call on tap for the morning. I need to make some appointments with doctors. I have to have a prescription refilled. I need to take a rain check.
But where am I–my heart, my mind, my soul?
I remember Carmen Bernos de Gasztolde’s “The Prayer of the Butterfly”from her Prayers from the Ark:
Lord!/ Where was I?/ Oh yes! This flower, this sun, /thank you! Your world is beautiful!/This scent of roses…/where was I?/ A drop of dew/ rolls to sparkle in a lily’s heart./ I have to go…/ Where? I do not know!/ The wind has painted fancies/ on my wings./Fancies…/ Where was I?/ Oh yes! Lord,/ I had something to tell you.
When my worlds are so much with me, I have a hard time keeping track of myself! Every world is interesting–fascinating or compelling or demanding, yet if I can’t locate my own center of being, I don’t have much to bring to the worlds I navigate.
In this Eastertide I am needing to practice once again paying attention first thing in the morning and last thing at night to where I am. I begin with my body–what space do I occupy? how does it feel? where are the comfortable or sore places that inform me of my state of being? I then attend to my heart–what feelings am I aware of? if I stay longer, what else is there? Then I move to my wider location: what is happening or has happened today? what will I or did I do? what crossed my mind? captured my attention? keeps pulling on my focus? I almost always need to do this in silence, alone–often with my candle lit, reminding me that the Light of the Holy never goes out. I also need to take time, enough time to let the mud settle, to let unattended hope and fears surface, to develop a sense of proportion and place.
It is a continuing amazement and distress to me that I have to practice this over and over, I am always a beginner. My Butterfly Mind has such strong wings, and rides so hard on the updrafts! So I need to come back to what I know for sure: The Holy One knows not only who I am, but where I am. In Psalm 139, the poet declares:
O God, You search me and know me inside out./ You know my comings and goings. / You understand my thought completely. (Swallow’s Nest, Psalm 139:1)
If I want to know where I am, I need every day to begin with the One who knows. And the Spirit is willing to lead me into knowing, even after sleeping. When I awake, I am still with you. (KJV, Psalm 139: 18, b).
Yesterday the Gratefulness.org website posted this thought of the day:
You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope. ~ THOMAS MERTON
It is in the time of silence of beginning and closing the day where the recognition of that which Merton calls for begins to speak, and it is there where the Spirit who knows me inside and out can guide my awareness, can replenish me for this present moment, and empower me with courage, faith and hope once again.
For each new day and night, thanks be to God!