The hardest thing about meditation, for me, is well…meditating. It requires chromosomes I believe are lacking in my DNA. Here are a few examples: sitting still, thinking of only one thing at a time and being in a quiet space (no music, etc.). But, several years ago I was invited to a class on contemplative prayer where I learned a technique that can provide ways to control my wandering, and sometimes, unquiet mind.
This is how it works. When entering into my sacred space with God, I picture myself sitting on the bank of a slow-moving river. I am under a large tree that shades me as I relax on luxurious green grass. If an unwanted thought comes into my mind, I don’t fight it. I simply put it on a little sail boat and send it down the imagined river with a promise to catch up to it soon. This has proven to work well for dislodging distractions, for the most part. The problem is that this practice to avoid distractions can become a distraction in itself.
That was the case last week as I sat considering my next steps moving forward with an artistic project for 2021. I believe this project has the go ahead from God and therefore, left it up to Him to provide details of how to work it out. As patience is not my long suit, I can easily give up the pursuit of celestial answers in favor of engaging in my gold-medaled, championship anxiety dance. And that is where I began to go as weeks turned into months and still there didn’t seem to be answers I needed/wanted.
In times of confusion and impatience, I’ve learned that turning to other believers and artists is helpful for refocusing on focusing. So, after talking to another artist about my dilemma and hearing her promise to pray for me, I resigned myself to bring the situation, and myself, once again before the Lord to await answers. As I quieted my heart and closed my eyes, pesky little thoughts entered into my meditative process. Refusing to be rattled, I took deep breaths and recited the verse, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” Psalm 119:105.
I did my usual packing of intruders onto pint-sized sail boats and sending them flowing down the river, promising to return to them later. This time, the miniature thought-laden boats didn’t sail away. Instead, they turned around and came back upstream with their passengers stubbornly demanding attention.
After several attempts to enforce the merrily, merrily on your way technique, I became exasperated. I told God,“Lord, I do Not have time for these interruptions. I’m Trying to hear what You are telling me about proceeding with our new adventure.”
The more I asked for help and shipped off the intrusive sailors, the more they returned until they lined up side-by-side on my grassy cerebral shore. I narrowed my eyes, told them to go and explained (with little patience now) I had no time for them at the moment. With unexpected clarity my vision began to make out a pattern. The uninvited attention grabbers were docking their vessels in a certain order.
They appeared to be methodical and calculated steps for the construction of God’s new assignment for me. I sat motionless for several minutes until I saw this was what I’d been asking for. Although I had no time to hear what God was saying because I was listening for what He was saying, He brought His precious cargo of answers. I laughed out loud (yes in the sacred, silent space) before my delight turned to panic. I had no doubt the little crafts with their informative freight would soon float away into the sea of “Should have written that down.”
After scribbling frantically for fifteen minutes and watching thoughts go peacefully on their watery way, I got out of my chair, walked into the office shared with my husband and sat down with a thump. Not realizing I spoke out loud, I said, “What do you know about that? Humph.”
My husband asked what I was thumping and humphing about. I tried to explain but recognized my verbal communication skills had boarded the last boat out of port that morning. Observing some puzzled looks from my man, I gave up and said, “Just got some stuff sorted out, I think. Amazing how God works, huh?”
After hubby announced that I looked like I could use a nap, I said, “I do feel a little tired right now. I think for the rest of this day, I’m going to make time to just relax and go with the flow.”
Copyright March 2021, Laura L. Padgett Montrose, CO
Connect with me, Laura Padgett, on Twitter @lauraleepadgett or my Facebook Author Page
Check out the books I have published
“Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers. If you live in the U.S. and would like an autographed copy sent directly to you, click on the tab for buying books on my home page
The award-winning “Jesus in Shorts: Twenty-five Shorts Stories of Life-Changing Jesus Moments,” available now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you live in the U.S. and would like an autographed copy sent directly to you, click on the tab for buying books on my home page.