Meditation: A Way of Life

Going into this Year with the Disciplines project, there were two spiritual disciplines that intimidated me most, one of which was meditation. I confess: I’d been avoiding it. I had this idea that meditation was a heavy, solemn thing, as I’m sure sometimes it is and should be. But it really didn’t feel that way. On the contrary, it felt freeing and uplifting. Maybe God was being especially sweet and gracious to me during my first month with this blog, giving me that extra little nudge. I was so happy and surprised to be relieved of any pressure to conjure up some grand spiritual revelation or experience. Instead, God reminded me of the beauty, simplicity, and everyday practicality of meditation. The ideas of tending to my spiritual garden and tasting spiritual honey really sunk in for me, and what I had thought would be a chore felt like a luxury. I can only hope that this next month carries with it the same sort of romance; it is February, after all!

Image

Before we move on to prayer (the other discipline that I have issues with), I wanted to share some last tid-bits that could be helpful to you on your personal journey with the art of meditation.

Here are a few other quotes from the chapter that I love:

“Meditation is a more passive discipline. It is characterized more by reflecting than by studying, more by listening than by thinking, more by releasing than by grabbing. With the discipline of meditation we are not so much acting as we are opening ourselves to be acted upon.” (Study Guide)

“The meditation of scripture centers on internalizing and personalizing the passage. The written word becomes a living word addressed to you. Take a single event like the resurrection, or a parable, or a few verses, or even a single word and allow it to take root in you. Seek to live the experience…apply all [the] senses… Smell the sea, hear the lap of water along the shore. See the crowd. Feel the sun on your head and the hunger in your stomach. Taste the salt in the air. Touch the hem of His garment.” (26)

“Mediation is not a single act… It is a way of life. You will be constantly learning and growing as you plumb the inner depths.” (29)

Finally, some other helpful resources/quotes on the subject:

A Short and Very Easy Method of Prayer, by Madame Guyon
(Particularly Chapter 2 – The First Degree of Prayer: Meditation)

Warm Yourself at the Fires of Meditation, by David Mathis.

The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence

Meditation – What It Is, by Tim Keller (audio message)

Psalm 1:1-3
“Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of mockers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.”

Union with Thee, by Madame Guyon

“Here sweetly forgetting and wholly forgot
by the world and its turbulent throng
the birds and the streams lend me many a note
that aids meditation and song…
…Here let me, though fix’d in a desert, be free,
a little one, whom they despise.
Though lost to the world, if in union with thee,
I am holy, and happy, and wise.”

If you have been reading along this past month, I want to say thank you!! I hope that this first of the 12 spiritual disciplines has blessed you, and will continue to make it’s way into your everyday life.

Next, we embark upon our new subject: prayer!

Advertisements

Meditation: Much Like Tasting

Last Sunday it drizzled steadily at the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market, where I sell jewelry that I make. I’m usually nestled off to the side among the cluster of other artisans, but because several vendors didn’t show due to the weather, I was bumped up to a better spot on the main strip. So, I had new neighbors, and made friends with a lady to my right named Janet. She was selling raw orange-blossom honey, and we traded two small jars for a necklace.

Image

Janet has a raspy, enthusiastic voice, and periodically called out to umbrella-toting passers-by to try out her honey, raving about it’s medicinal properties and eternal shelf-life. She was cheerful, as sweet-natured as her honey, and made me happy I had shown up despite the rain.

Today, as I opened my new jar of honey and had a taste of its smooth, floral goodness, I remembered an explanation I had once read, likening the experience of honey to the experience of God:

“There is a difference between having an opinion that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man can’t have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind. So there is a difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a sense of his beauty.”

-Jonathan Edwards, A Divine and Supernatural Light

In other words, there is a secondhand knowledge about honey that I can have without ever having tasted it, based primarily on what I’ve read and what others have told me. I can set the honey in the center of my kitchen table, walk by it every day, examine it’s amber hue, or read up on it via Wikipedia. But, until I put it to my own lips and taste it for myself, I don’t have my own personal, firsthand knowledge of honey; all I have is hearsay.

This is how I see the concept of meditation. To me, meditation is sensing, tasting, God’s goodness on my heart. Intimacy requires focus, devotion, savoring. I can (and often do) go about my days religiously hoarding information about God, but meditation happens when I experience and enjoy Him; when I think about Him, and revel in those thoughts. As Matthew Henry says, “What we love, we love to think of.” Or take Fredrick W. Faber’s famous line:

“Only to sit and think of God,
Oh what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the Name
Earth has no higher bliss.”

So, I give you this as my first thought regarding the discipline of meditation. It’s is the sort of thing where I believe it’s best for us to begin with the end – the enjoyment of the One contemplated- and work our way backwards – with methods and suggestions. Meditation is a tool that is available to all of us, in the midst of our busy days. This month as I’ve studied this discipline, I’ve been simply taking moments to press truths of scripture to my heart, linger there, and taste. It’s made the art of meditation less daunting and more satisfying; who wouldn’t want to partake of something delicious?

“…the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul…”

(Proverbs 24:13-14)