I've got a lot of things on my mind.
Today, I went out with a friend and we walked on the beach. It was a nice day out but walking on the sand killed my calves. I know that sounds like a complaint but I am actually happy that I was able to go out, happy that the beach wasn't crowded, happy to share good news of my brother-in-law with a dear friend who has been praying for him.
I spent the day reading about prayer. I think I might be coming down with the flu (again) and I had stomach cramps so I didn't feel like doing much and there is only so much msnbc a girl can watch. (really, how many times do they have to show the same documentaries on prison visits? I get it. Prison sucks and prisoners and guards are people. But can't they find another topic for a change?)
I'm reading about various ways to connect with God and what I'm finding in my readings is pretty much, across the board, there is a call to separate oneself from everything in order to connect with God. Henri Nouwen calls it "ministry of absence" but I've been reading it in books by other authors (I'm reading a book by Tony Jones right now but I don't have it next to me and I'm too lazy to go look for it. It was for free but it's about prayer.) Basically, we get so distracted and our minds get so cluttered, that we need the absence so that God can enter. Basically, I have to turn the TV off and let the apartment be quiet. I don't know why that freaks me out, but it does. For some reason, I'm either scared or threatened of silence. When I pray, I pray even when the TV is on or whatever, because I guess I feel like I can tune it out. So I'm wondering why my addiction/dependence to noise and the sound of TV is so strong that turning it off to "Be still" kind of freaks me out (I'm one of those people who leaves the TV on at night driving spouse nuts).
The other thing that has been really interesting is in the idea of praying but not expecting anything, not having an agenda. When I pray, I'm usually asking for something. Sometimes it's something important like curing Pancho's cancer. Sometimes it's something like "dear God, please let me develop appendicitis so that I don't have to go to school" or "dear God, please let the shuttle be at the bottom of the hill so that I don't have to walk to school..." or "dear God, please help me to not hate that girl for having a cute gold motorola razr phone..." What is so interesting is that it is possible that prayer is "answered" by God working in my life and me becoming a decent person. Prayer as a way of connecting with the Creator, letting him into my heart. It's kind of subversive for me to think of prayer as just kind of conversation. To pray three words: "God is love" is just as valuable as any of the prayers for God to reveal things to me or to work in the world around me. It reinforces the idea that I've been obsessed with: there is no wrong way to pray.
And to be honest, I'm struggling with the whole idea of what it means to be one of those people who is quiet and prays and "retreats". I've got it stuck in my head that people who devote long periods of time to being quite "with God" are either on drugs or they are religious fanatics. I'm not a nun. I'm not Ghandi. I'm Erin. But my prayers are just as powerful as anyone else's prayers and if I believe what I'm studying, I believe that prayers are actions- people who pray are doing something, they are working in the world, they are being useful. And maybe they are connecting with God ("wasting time with God") in ways that just freak me out.
One thing- I have time to think about prayer and meditation and what it means to be around God, and that is a blessing. Many people don't have time for these kinds of thoughts and normally, if I was not on spring break, I wouldn't either. You have work, husband, school, family (and if you add children...)- who has time to devote to silence and prayer?
And I close with these thoughts (because this is my blog and it's really about my day)- Dennis has been awesome today. He brought me lunch, he's been really nurturing because he knows I'm feeling bad, he made dinner, and he's just been so affectionate. He makes me laugh. Tonight, as he was cooking hot dogs and cutting up advocado, he was singing the "Thong Song". Where in the world did my husband hear the "thong song"?? (I myself haven't heard that song since my high school senior prom in 2000!!) (If you don't know the song and are really curious, search for it on youtube. It's kind of scandalous.)
and this is being filed under Blogging Chicks Carnival