By Melodious Monk
In his book “Listen with your Heart,” Cistercian monk Basil Pennington explains a lesson he was taught early in his spiritual journey. “The past and the future are other forms of self. God is now. God is the eternal now. In the past, we are off in our memories. In the future, we are off in our imagination. The reality in life is in the now. You find this in all spiritual traditions. What is being sought in the different methods of meditation is to be present here, now.”
For this Lent, one practice we are doing as a community is taking additional moments of quiet, of silence, in our daily Liturgy of the Hours services. Between each psalm in the main body of the service, we simply sit for one minute. This is meant to be a time of listening, and talking with God, interiorly, in the presence of other members of the body of Christ.
I do not sit still well! Every service I think, today I will quiet my mind and spend a whole minute straight listening to the Almighty. Soon, though, my mind drifts, the cantor stands and intones the next psalm. I’m rattled out of some train of thought wondering about how the day will play out, or wishing last night’s events had turned out differently.
Surely Pennington’s time-honored wisdom is something wonderful to be practiced by our 21st century minds. It’s a challenge to trust enough to let go of our anxieties and control towards the future and equally a challenge to stop saying “what if?” or “I should have, or could have, done this or that.” Christ tells us that His burden is easy and light. If, with our hearts, we can grab hold of being present in today’s moments to this “eternal now,” perhaps we can experience the bliss and freedom available in the reality of Christ’s love.