Interlude: Song Without Words, performed by Rachel Currea, on the Walking to You album
It’s that time of year. The baseball World Series is over. Halloween has come and gone. Tonight we will turn the clocks back — the ones that don’t sync up by themselves. Soon, my house be caught up in the bustle that marks the end of the year — Thanksgiving, Advent, holiday concerts, semester final exams, and travelling to visit family for Christmas. These next few weeks of November are precious. I have time for “normal” and “routine.”
Daily meditation is so much easier when life is routine. There’s an appointed time and place to sit with God, and it becomes automatic. But when the routine breaks, it seems meditation time gets shuffled this way and that. I can usually make it work — trim the time a little, move it to a different part of my day — but when distraction is greatest, meditation disappears from my mind and my schedule. Just like during meditation, in my daily practice I am always beginning again.
And yet, I do begin again. I know how precious the time with God is for me. For reasons I’ve recounted here, time in meditation is time well spent. Failing to meditate isn’t a reason to stop meditating. I can feel the difference when I don’t meditate, so the failure becomes a reminder to me that I want meditation to be part of my life.
So I encourage you to join me in this precious pre-holiday season: enjoy its relative calm, and the opportunity to make daily meditation easier.
Echoing that sense of joy and thanksgiving, allow me to share excerpts from two hymns. First, familiar words from Psalm 16:
O LORD, you are my portion and my cup; *
it is you who uphold my lot.
My boundaries enclose a pleasant land; *
indeed, I have a goodly heritage.
I will bless the LORD who gives me counsel; *
my heart teaches me, night after night.
I have set the LORD always before me; *
because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.
You will show me the path of life; *
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
And to conclude, from the Orthodox tradition, a stanza [Kontakion 4] from The Akathist of Thanksgiving, By Metropolitan Tryphon of Turkestan:
How Thou delightest the hearts of those who meditate upon Thee, O God!
Thou feedest their souls with Thy Holy Word.
Talking with Thee is better than oil and sweeter than honey.
Prayer to God refreshes and invigorates; it fills my heart with joy.
How majestic then appears this world and all life.
Where Thou art not – all is empty.
Where Thou art – there is the richness of the soul.
There, as living water, is the everlasting song: Alleluia.
[text above as published on the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas website, referred to me by friend Mark Mellis]
[Also note: The hymn’s text was found in effects of Hieromartyr Grigori Petroff, who died in a Siberian prison camp in 1942]
Delivered at Resurrection Catholic Church, Aptos, California, on November 4, 2017.