Watching

Watch your thoughts, for they become words
Watch your words, for they become actions
Watch your actions, for they become habits
Watch your habits, for they become character
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny

One of my 30-something friends posted this on Instagram and FB this morning. I’ve seen it before. But, today the word(s) that leapt off the page was WATCH.

When I pause in my day and take the time to pray I find that some sort of contemplation or meditation is my mode. When I make time to try to sit quietly and clear my mind and listen, I find that the thoughts still come. WATCH. Those who are far better at these practices than I, often remind us that we cannot control those thoughts. Therefore, as they wander through our minds we can allow them to come and go without attachment to them.

And so, I Watch my thoughts… they tell me a lot about what is going on with me. They tell me where I am uncomfortable and where I relax. I don’t have to make them turn into words (which lead to actions, habits…) I can do that, but first I must watch them and learn to let them go and let them be.

I certainly cannot control my thoughts! If I could, I wouldn’t think of my friend Henry every time I buy a lottery ticket, and I might win! Henry told me once that he had bad luck, and that even thinking of him when buying a lottery ticket would insure that it was not a winning ticket. ┬áBingo! I seem to have no control over thinking of him when throwing my money away on the lottery. I’ve tried replacement (think of something else) but Henry always shows up. I have to let the memory of him walk into my mind and then walk on by.

So, indeed: Watch. Be awake. But, don’t hang on to those thoughts like you own them. Don’t believe you actually control them. Control what you do with them? Oh, yes. Open yourself up to transformation so that the Image and Likeness of God shine through more easily? Oh yes. Those thoughts tell me a lot about where I am on my journey, but the are not ME. I can learn from them, but I cannot hang on to them.

 

Henry

My friend died tonight – a little over an hour ago. When I got the call, I just knew. But, I think I knew when it happened. Earlier this evening, in the middle of what passes for choir practice at church, Henry suddenly loomed large in my head and my heart. I felt so strongly that I needed to pray for him.

Earlier today I called Henry. I had such a strong urging inside me to call him. He sounded bad – but he wanted to talk. We used to talk at work. Stand outside and solve problems, discuss philosophy and theology. And so, today we talked about general stuff and how all he wanted to eat was ice cream and fruit. It was a good talk, good sharing. I’m pretty sure at this point that I was open to the urging of the Holy Spirit when I made the call. I’m just as certain that at church the Spirit once again prompted me.

So, is this post about me or about Henry? Both and neither. I think it’s about being sad that my friend has moved on and it’s about that being for me a near occasion of grace. I find it far better to be aware and feel the pain than to be asleep and miss being a part of life.

Thank you God for Henry’s life. Thank you for allowing me to share a small piece of that life. And thank you for the prompting that led me to call and talk with him this morning.