Stop striving- Look, See, Pray

I caught myself staring at the daffodils in silent wonder. Suddenly, sunshine on sticks! My tiredness and aches eased a bit as I enjoyed the free show.

If truth be told, I have possibly overdone it a bit recently.  Hard to learn new tricks and all that. Living with a body that is sub-par gives fresh challenges, one of which is having to pace myself. As an enthusiast, my natural tendency is to jump right in when some (preferably new) possibility comes up. Not a good idea nowadays.

But I am learning.  One thing I am learning is that prayer is about more than words. Silence, meditation, and stopping. Psalm 46 is a song written for people whose life is tough. Outside pressures from those who want you in harm’s way, internal pressures from fading expectations and failures of trust or dreams. It begins by reminding believers that God is OUR refuge and strength. Then in v10 it says “Be still and know that I am God.”

Translating from Hebrew into English isn’t always simple- there are nuances in the words. “Be still” is fine; but it also implies “Stop striving” … it isn’t all dependent on us. Meditating on that instruction helped me. Staring at the beautiful daffodils God created did calm me, and I found myself in awe of God once again.

If meditation is so  helpful, why don’t I do it more? Probably because I cannot “measure” the results. Thomas Merton wrote about this struggle many of us have:

“The reason why so many religious people believe they cannot meditate is that they think meditation consists in having religious emotions, thoughts, or affections of which one is, oneself, acutely aware…  As soon as they start to meditate, they begin to look into the psychological conscience to find out if they are experiencing anything worthwhile. They find little or nothing.  They either strain themselves to produce some interior experience, or else they give up in disgust.”  – Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

Western culture is so geared to measure results, be efficient, cut out the waste, that it can become poison to our souls. Is admiring daffodils a “waste” of time? Or stopping to think, to breathe, to laugh at jokes, admire photos, play with children, spend time with people we love- waste??? Never!

If we “Stop striving” and allow God to make Himself known in the silence, we are praying more profoundly than if we use words, words, words. Or actions, actions, actions.

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God IS present. It is awareness that is our problem. Noise in our minds and turmoil in our emotions stir us up like water being thrown against the shore. Our experience of reality is clouded and mucky. Disturbed water takes time to settle before it becomes clear.

Striving to be “better at meditating” is precisely the wrong thing to do!  “Stop striving- and KNOW that I am God.” And enjoy the daffs.


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