A plan for life…sort of

Noah napping in the heat

Noah napping in the heat…I just loved seeing his paws sticking up

As I was driving yesterday, I listened to a snippet of a sermon that really made me think about guilt. I’ve heard this particular man preach before, and I truly believe he is sincere, but at the same time, limited. He was talking about prayer time and said; “Don’t let the world pull you away from your time with god. Don’t leave god to answer the phone. It might be someone just wanting to sell you something!”

And I thought, “That is the problem. We believe, and have been taught, that we must “set time apart” for god, as if the Spirit of Creation can only be found by getting quiet and shutting everything out. And another problem in our thinking is the idea that god can be left out of our lives, or must be found….that “he” is somehow hidden.

I understand the need to center ourselves, have our quiet time, and all of that. I also understand the need at times to turn off the phone, go on retreat, and get quiet on purpose. Setting time apart for this contemplative period can be deeply satisfying, but we should drop, forever, the idea that when we are not having this time, for whatever reason, that we have temporarily “left god”.

I cannot even count the number of people who, over the years, have told me that they were struggling with guilt and feelings of inadequacy for not meditating or praying on a regular basis. It is as if we think there is some sort of pre-existing correct path (set up by a god that is outside of us and has made many firm and right rules) but we haven’t been given the program for this “event” so we keep fearing we’re missing something and are not doing it (life) right.

We search for routines that made us feel (at least temporarily) secure and we then vow to stick to our plans….and when we don’t, we feel guilty. Rigid rules and routines regarding prayer (or anything) will eventually suck the life out of it.

Hold your plan loosely.

See god (your inner divine self that is inseparable from all that is) in your planned prayer and in your decision to answer the phone instead (even if it was a telemarketer). See god in your meditation, and in the eating of that bowl of ice cream (that you decided to have instead of mediating). See the ice cream as meditation and the phone call as the prayer.
Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each
moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in
the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign’d
by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.” Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself

15 thoughts on “A plan for life…sort of

  1. Dear Mary, your post this morning holds so much truth! How can we ever NOT be with God, since the presence of the divine is in everything, every one, every moment, every breath we take. We are surrounded by and filled up with the sublime, unconditional love and acceptance of a life force that is infinite, impenetrable and never separate from us or anything else in this universe. Thank you for the wonderful Walt Whitman quote and your continuous, enlightening wisdom.

  2. Well said and powerful ~ thanks for sharing, I know what I will be thinking about today 😊

  3. Mary – thank you for sharing this. It certainly gave me pause for thought and feeling today, which I sorely needed.

  4. I’ve expressed this here before, but years ago I spoke to my minister (Anglican priest) and said: ” I can’t put my fanny in the pew any longer and repeat the Nicene Creed”, she asked if she could come up to have a cup of tea and go for a walk, which she did, then said: “you’ll be fine”…Aside from missing her presence in my life, it was the right thing for me to do. I don’t believe in structured, man-interpreted religion. My leaving the church was a gradual process. It never occurred to me not to speak to a Higher Power whenever I wanted to…and it didn’t have to happen in a church setting. I do believe in meditative silence with quiet music in the background, which is why my work with textiles brings me such calm and peace while doing it. You’ve more than made a good point this morning Mary. Some may say, what is God…and the image of a man sitting on a throne with his long beard, long hair and robes flowing, thankfully left me years ago.
    SandyP in Canada

  5. Mary — thank you for your words. I enjoy reading the Psalms and this brought to mind one that I turn to whenever I am feeling lost — Psalm 139 — where David reminds us that no matter where we go, mentally or physically, God is always there. We are the ones who turn our backs not God. As someone who battles depression, I need this constant reminder

  6. Wow Mary, this post makes me so overflowed with emotion .

    It’s just that I so need to hear from someone genuine such as you who has found how to express the things that interfere ( guilt, ritual, dogma ) with the divine . I sat year after year listening to such stultifying dogma from the religion I fled . Yet I know that most importantly I feel free now to really know with my mind and heart the goodness ( God ) we all seek , free from pomp and circumstance, guilt, any contrivance that people put on our true experience with the divine.

    I too so love that quote ! How can we hold an innocent baby ( I am “auntie” to a dear friend who gave birth 3 months ago ) look into their eyes and see anything less than all that is good ? Where does the guilt come from ? How can God be contained in time, in a building , in a ritual, rules , in an explanation ? Human efforts to explain God fall so far short of who he is.

  7. What a timely post. I’ve been struggling with meditation time even when I know there is no real line between meditation and life they are one in the same. Happy 4th to you and congrats on the beautiful new addition to your family.

  8. Beautiful thoughts Mary!
    And, don’t the kitties have it just right? When it’s hot… nap!
    How is the new grandbaby?
    Happy fourth,
    From Fran

  9. Dear Mary, Just as I read this Missie(the cat we got from our shelter last Sept.!) jumped up into my lap for the very first time! Unbelievable! It took 10 mo. for this.! This is God for me.
    Love, Cindy

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