A common form of deep suffering
When the mind is unsettled it is difficult to focus. Or if focus is possible it is often disrupted over and over gain by inner agitation. When this happens to me, I am finding out that it is my anxiousness that fuels this inner cycle of suffering. Inner turmoil can be so common that it is often overlooked as suffering at all. It can be like background unpleasant music that one gets used to; yet there all the same. The less it is understood that we are in a state of suffering, the easier it is to summit others to its domination. We call them moods, having a bad day, yet, if it is taken out on others, it is a sign of being out of touch with ones center. For me this is easy to do.
Because of my cantankerous nature, I have had to find ways to deal with it. I believe that I would be much worse, or if not that, I believe that I would be a lot more unpleasant to be around if I did not admit that this is something that needs working on. St. Paul talks about having a thorn in his side, I think he probably had more than one, perhaps we all do…. well I know that I do. When I get a buzz in my mind, it keeps stinging, even when I seek to moderate its influence over me.
If I am truly seeking to be a follower of Christ, then I am not free to subjugate others to my inner moods, fears, anger and anxiety. I am free to take responsibility for myself, to deepen the distinction of my inner ‘weather’, from what is going on with others around me. Moods are like wearing prescription sun-glasses that change on a regular basis. So the world around me and people may seem different, but in reality it is just me. My seeking to center my life or Christ Jesus gives me a place to stand from, to take root into, and hopefully to grow in the relationship. If not, I become ever more fragmented, scattered and others have to pay the price for that.
There are many people who are very refined, gentle and kind, who don’t have the same inner experiences as I do. So a great deal of pain can be rained down upon them if I allow this primitive aspect of myself to become manifest. It is that part that is fearful, angry and anxious, and I guess it is between 2 and 5 years old and very unreasonable/irrational……I think most people know what it is like to deal with an irate child in this age group.
Of course I would imagine that most people have something that they deal with that really has to addressed, if they want to live any kind of normal life with good relationship’s with others. It is those we have to deal with everyday, those we love, work with, and just meet on the way that can bring us to the point of simply being a decent human being when inside we could be having a temper tantrum because the world does not revolve….well, me for instance.
Prayer is important because it leads me to the understanding that I am not the actual center of the Cosmos, that there is something greater that is in relationship with me, calling me out of my narrow, narcissistic, infallible interpretation what is going on around me. Personal infallibility is one of the heaviest crosses anyone has to bear. To actually know what is wrong with the world, and the frustration when everyone does not agree with my insights, can be truly painful. So we have what, six billion souls on this planet, each the center of their universe…..is there any wonder we have problems?
Prayer allows that illusion to lessen and at times to dissipate. Prayer is more about being with the Infinite One in a loving relationship than in constantly asking for something, then demanding a response, or praising etc. It is simply allowing the heart to expand as our hearts slowly become more truly human. The more we love, the deeper we love, leads to simply loving more. The Eternal One slowly brings our hearts in line with the love that is poured into our souls. Stone becomes flesh, dried out clay becomes soft and malleable, we become able to actually live out the image we are made it.
My prayer is very simple; I just use my prayer rope. When I am walking, driving, waiting at the airport, I just get my prayer rope and slowly say a short prayer, over and over again, seeking to be conscious of what I am doing, seeking to pray from the heart, to be present. Some days I do better than others. There are days when I feel centered and connected others when it may be more difficult, or very hard. Both types of days are the same. For the Lord of creation is constant, loving, and worthy of all trust…..I am none of those at this point in my life. Inconstancy is my middle name I would say.
In prayer, that center of the universe, that which holds all things together, allows me to become the beloved that the Blessed One pours his love and grace into. A healing balm that heals the deepest self that is fragmented, anxious, fearful and yes angry. Also there is sorrow, pain, as well as joy. Yes a mixed bag is a human being, we are complex creatures, prone to chaos and yes evil, yet loved, sought after; such is the nature of infinite grace.
I am not comfortable with the term ‘God’, since the word is so abused. Often when we use that word, we are talking about some sort of inner idol, which I believe we all have. I believe that some forms of fundamentalism have the strongest inner idols of anyone. A God who is like them on a bad day, who is “Male” and more like one of the more bad tempered gods of the past. Sort of like the god Zeus looking for people to strike with a bolt of lighting…. a god with way too much testosterone. Again I need to say ‘some fundamentalist’, I know many fundamentals, who are in fact kind, loving and very Christ like. I am honored to have them as friends, though we disagree on certain points. My experience with Muslims is very limited, but I am sure it is the same for them as well.
As we mature, hopefully our ideas of God change, but the Eternal is ever the same, though infinite creativity at the same time. “In Him we live and move and have our being” as St. Paul says.