I’ve recently taken up the practice of centering prayer. The Divine and I have had a twice daily date for almost two weeks now. It’s totally shaken up my snow globe. The peace, stress reduction and inner calm that usually comes to mind when you hear things like centering prayer and contemplative practice? Yeah, no. Not yet at least. Centering prayer has lead me to places like the study of heartfulness and deeper into my love of solitude. That eremitic itch? Yeah, it’s still there, maybe a little stronger now. I just know there’s a little woodland homestead somewhere in need of my time and attention. Some wilderness cabin that would just LOVE to have me (and Beanie; she and I are a package deal). Decent wifi and heaps of solitude. Plenty of space for prayer, yoga and contemplation – and destressing from the modern world for which I seem woefully unequipped to handle.
Quite frankly, I SUCK at modernity. Too much weirdness, too many rules and “Whaaa???” Add to that most people don’t quite get my compulsive seeking out the Divine at all costs. Should I be presented with something I need to change in my environment, lifestyle, or anywhere else INCLUDING my thoughts (probably especially those) I may have times where I hesitate, but mostly to check out the terrain before plunging heedlessly onward. This has lead to some interesting “deceptions” of late.
I have a deep, deep love of the Orthodox Church. Warts and all. I’ve always adored the Roman Catholic Saints and contemplative practices. I brought many of those practices along with me into my Pagan life. The practices are awesome sauce whether you add a Jesus topping or not. And since we’re on the topic of That Guy, I never quite abandoned my love of Him, either, though my taste for the Jesus served up in either the New Age/Pagan or Christian circles is definitely lacking. None of it tastes like the Jesus I’d gotten a savor of in my travels. He’s either too bland or too bitter, like over steeped, watered down tea. No sweetness but definitely saccharine. His Mother, Mary, posed no problems for me at all. Straight up love Her.
Though I’m not ashamed of my deep love of some things Christian and would happily talk for ages about them to those with a similar love, I have zero interest in debate or defending anything. Many people enjoy that sort of thing; I am not one of them. I have no interest in apologetics of any faith. Nor will I set my treasures out for those who would make fun of them. People have a history of meanieness towards each other over probably anything you can think of. Religions can defend themselves without my help. I am perfectly happy to allow you to believe or not whatever you like. However, this is not the extent of my odd little “deceptions”, which are more like omissions.
I have begun going to church again. Not only that, but I LOVE going to church! I contemplate ways to arrange my schedule so I can attend all the services. The quiet prayerful services are my favorites. I even contemplate playing hookie from work so I can go to vespers in the evenings or pray the Akathist midmorning. (Currently, it’s just mental musings; other demands curtail the urge.) This week, open contemplation time was added on Monday nights where we can show up any time within an hour and simply sit in silence and contemplation in the church. You’d have thought they said “free vegan taco Tuesday – all you can eat”! Alas, I was very sick over the weekend and left work early-ish to go home and rest. Other life commitments again.
I find a certain peace and safety in the church. It’s quiet. It smells nice. I feel at home there. I adore the topic, though I don’t always agree with the language. And even in church I’m trying to look beneath the words and rituals for the deeper meaning, the clues to stronger connection to my Beloved.
So why do I count these rebellions? In our society, we are not supposed to be obsessed with a spiritual life. We’re supposed to “keep things in balance”, which generally means money earning gets all your best efforts and anything else gets squished in around the edges. Family gets the dregs and spiritual life…. gets whatever you can eek out of “me time”. Because any spiritual practices are presumably of no value to anybody but “me” and the maintainance of “me” as calm and stress free enough to go back to money earning, social climbing, positioning, etc., etc., etc. It is very clear in our society: the getting and keeping of money is supposed to be EVERYONE’S top priority.
Even among the devout, I am often cautioned to “not let my seeking get out of hand.” But don’t you see? I want it out of hand! I want it all consuming; I want it to completely take me over. I want to burn with it, drown in it, be buried in it. I don’t want weak tea and idle chatter; I want the full banquet, spicy, hot, sweet, rolling around on my tongue in ecstasy. I want to swoon with love of the Divine. And no, I have zero interest in being a monastic. I consider these rebellions because the life of Spirit is of far more interest and importance to me than money getting. I tried the other way, found it confusing, mean and sorely lacking in substance. Not to mention it made me ill. I see enormous value to myself my family, society and the world in tending to spiritual practice with the greatest care and attention, putting care of the Soul above everything else, crowning Love Sovereign over my life and moving forth from that. This to me is the truest tending of the Home Fires, caring for Hearth and Home.