Interlude: Ubi Caritas, performed by Phoenix Chorale, on the Gjeilo: Northern Lights album
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. “
That’s Saint Paul’s greeting in the letter to the Romans – Grace. And Peace. On a good morning, meditation can fill our hearts with feelings of grace, and our minds with peace and tranquility. Other days … not so much.
On those other days, my mind can be flooded with thoughts, like an inbox gone wild with messages that I didn’t ask for, or that I don’t need to read. My mailbox at home, and my email inbox, are flooded with advertisements. It takes work to stop the flood. Periodically I send postcards to stop catalogs from coming. When my email gets out of control, I spend extra time opening those unwanted marketing emails, scrolling to the bottom, and clicking on the tiny unsubscribe link. That 20% off coupon — if you just sign up for emails – sounded like a good idea at the time.
The only way to clear out the clutter – in your inbox, and in your mind, is to let go. Practice letting your thoughts go, like the junk mail that you toss in your recycling bin, or the email you delete, swiping left on your phone. No need to feel guilty.
Don’t get mad at the businesses sending you email – although you wouldn’t be the first to lose it with people out to make a buck – remember Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem, overturning the tables? ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ Vendors will always be trying to sell you something– some things never change. And those thoughts intruding on your meditation? Well, your mind is designed to think. It’s just its nature to come up with stuff. But you don’t have to open every single thought to see what’s inside.
Don‘t get discouraged, either. Letting go – of thoughts, or junk mail, or unwanted email – is a good habit, something worthy of practicing, and honing your skill. Recycling and stopping the junkmail, deleting and unsubscribing the junk email – each small action makes it easier to find the email you need to see and act upon. And improving your skill at letting go of thoughts? Every minute in meditation becomes practice for living in the here and now, an everyday open invitation for God’s grace and peace.
And one more thing — although meditation is solitary, gathering here with kindred souls on this meditation journey with the Holy Spirit, is encouraging. Practicing is a lot easier when you have someone to do it with, don’t you think?
Now, let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.
Delivered at Resurrection Catholic Church, Aptos, California, on August 16, 2019.