I do not understand serenity as a stagnant state. I do not understand serenity to be the appearance of a roomful of monks meditating or the relaxed bodies at end of a yoga class. These people have to exit this bubble and engage reality. The real test begins. Can this bliss be maintained in the messiness of life?
I want to be frank. No.
Its apples and oranges. Yet both are fruit. So, what is the thread from a meditative practice that can be held fast in the messiness of the day?
For understanding the potential for meditation to instill a serenity for the rest of the day, I love Charles Keating, the Trappist monk, who promotes Contemplative Prayer or what is also understood to be Centering Prayer (CP).
I say I am an adherent but I will never know if I practice this meditation well as there is no grading, no qualification, no levels, no ‘rules,’ and no cult that surrounds any of it. The question is “Will you (Mary) respond to the invitation this day, this hour, this moment, to “be still and know I am God” – the Lover of your life and soul – there is nothing more desired from you than this?”
My response to this pursuing Lover?
Why and how can you love me? When I sit still to be with you I hardly manage ‘quiet’ in my mind or heart – I am a lousy student of this meditation!
So, I sit still and do nothing. I do what I can to think of nothing. I acknowledge that God (the great Love or Spirit) can do for me in five minutes – a subtle shift in trust – what might take me five years of my own efforts. I believe changes – imperceptible and inexplicable – are the gifts of this trust in being still with the great Lover of us all.
I do CP even when I doubt it. It can’t hurt, I reason, to be still and quiet this busy mind whether I ‘get’ God or not. Frankly, I do not think our minds can fathom God and we should not try to explain – we sound foolish or too religious. It humors God (maybe even enrages?) when we try. I think actions are better, don’t you think?
And I go forward knowing that I chose to center my life on the mystery greater than my understanding. I choose to trust in serendipity and welcome all events and be a student round the clock – open to learn beyond what I understand.
I got a call on Monday – a day when Serenity was being challenged. It set me right. I heard the voice of Bobbi, a homeless woman in Harvard Square who said she picked up my card from the ground and noticed it said “Pastoral Care and Counseling” so she called. I said I would be delighted to meet and ended the call, “Bobbi – can I pray for US?” (we have since met and a new chapter has begun for us both – shared hope)
May you be overwhelmed with Serenity this day!