So it's the end of the year and time for the reaping -- both removing and holding onto what gives you life. Years ago, I learned this meditation practice from Matthew, Dennis and Sheila Linn, one which they had adapted from the spiritual practice of St. Ignatius. First quiet your mind and then put yourself in a safe place. (I am very fond of meadows nestled in ancient woodlands or beaches on the edge of an endless ocean.) Imagine God's love flooding your heart. It's okay to receive such tremendous tenderness; you deserve it. Then ask yourself the two most important questions: In the last year, when did you feel connected to God and when did you feel most distant. Since it is a year end examination, it may be a long list on either side of the equation, or not. Then take this vow -- do more of what brought you into God's light and less, or not at all, of what didn't. Simple.
This isn't a happiness exercise; that highly overrated and fleeting emotion, as misused and misunderstood as grace. Just after Hurricane Katrina, I volunteered with people fleeing New Orleans. I relished every moment. When a friend later asked what I thought of the experience, I said with sheer joy and glee, it was "fun." FUN, really April! What I really meant was I felt involved in something important for which God gave me the energy to do. I felt joy -- joy and happiness are not the same. This meditation is an exercise about joy, but beware, joy and connection to God do not always bring us happiness. More on this complicated topic in a later post.
Today, I will go for a long walk (in real and meditation time) and while on the trail, I will look back with courage and sift out what I should do more of in the next year. Like Lot's wife, some moments will turn me to salt and bring me to tears. But salt and tears are cleansing and will open my heart, my mind and my soul to the new year possibilities.
Please go to my author page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aprilDcoldsmith or to my blog: Me, Breaking In at www.aprilcoldsmith.blogspot.com.