It seems that I can easily fool myself — I think I have taken the time to pay attention. But it doesn’t stick with me unless I make a real effort. And effort to be awake and mindful and not just let life slide by aimlessly.
So – yesterday I had my new camera at work when new librarians came around for a bit of a tour. I am sooooo very bad with names (names must not be very important to me). But, I’m giving it a try. I took a picture of each (good chance to reinforce any new tricks with the camera) and made a conscious effort to attach names and things about each one to the name and face. This morning I saw them again and I could remember names and where they came from before moving here.
Is that a bit like praying? Or what is necessary to actually be touched by prayer or study? Take the time. Focus on it. Be mindful of what is happening now. Absorb it. Review it. It is only those things/events/people that we take the time to focus on that stick for the long haul.
And, I really want Jesus to be in that category.
This was a week where the world looked dull and grey and the glass was always half empty. I reverted to ashes – and the words from a song we often use for Ash Wednesday rolled through my head without ceasing for an entire afternoon:
…we offer you attempts
the gifts not fully given, the dreams not fully dreamt
Give our wanderings direction
Give our visions wider view
An offering of ashes, an offering to You.
I may not have the words exactly right, but that’s how these things go: the last line rolls around, and finally is joined by the one before, and eventually the verse is reconstructed from the bottom up. And sometimes it’s not really the original words.
In that half-empty mindset I looked at my dresser which reflects my life. It’s awash in the remnants of not quite finished business. Needed supplies that got as far as the dresser, but the bag remains; a couple of tags removed from a shirt, but never thrown away; Earrings taken out that never made it back to the jewelry box. It reminds me that I have a lot of work to do with respect to letting go. I make the move in a new direction, but I really have trouble with leaving the past behind. Ever. There are memories to keep, I know. There are lessons learned that need to be remembered. But, how will I ever move if I’m still dragging the baggage.
Guess I’ll go clean off that dresser top. Got to start somewhere, and I don’t have the energy to think about the kitchen!
I have a friend who observes: Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect. Practice makes Permanent.
An astute observation, I think. Its truth is probably why I have such a hard time breaking bad habits. I’ve had so much practice at them, they must be treated seriously in order to stop. They are pretty well ingrained. Permanent (unless I really get out the Ajax Magic Eraser and go to work.) Its truth is also the reason I find it so easy not to make myself sit down and pull together even a single paragraph to post every morning. I’ve not practiced enough to make it a part of my life.
[My apologies, Jack, if I got this all different that you meant it.] In his homily yesterday, Fr. Jack made connections between the first reading where Ezekial sees the water (Life from God) flowing out of God’s house, the temple, and Jesus as the temple – or the house of God. God cannot be constrained by a building. God won’t fit into the Sanctuary. Jesus became the temple – so now God is in a person, walking around. The final connection is the second reading: We are all temples of God. Even me. It therefore behooves me to respect that temple that is myself.
At this point I begin to chuckle as I remember a Jimmy Buffett song in which the women character speaks in frustration at the man: “I treat my body like a temple; you treat yours like a tent.” Let’s have some respect here!
Why does this have any relationship to practice? If I am to remember that God resides with me, I have to practice. I need to write. I need to pray. I need to stop and remember, over and over and over. Until I have practiced so much that it is truly a part of me.