Interlude: Wait Alone in the Stillness, performed by Steve Bell, on the Where the Good Way Lies album
A reading from Psalm 15 (verses 10-12), that I find quite apt for meditation:
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
When I think of the Holy Spirit, I recall what Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians (part of 6:19) “…Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God.” Saint Paul has a lot to say about the body in that part of the letter. Personally, I’ve noticed that when I sit down to meditate, my body has a lot to say, too, as if the Holy Spirit is walking around in my temple, appraising the place.
“Your breathing is more rapid than it should be. Are you still thinking about that guy that cut you off this morning? Or stressing that you were running a little late? Or are you grumpy about the noises coming from outside?”
“Your fingers are tingling. How much salt do you think you had in that meal just now? Are you drinking enough water?”
“You’re hurting again. Uh huh, right there. When is it going to get better? Just pay attention, follow the doctor’s advice, maybe get some more fresh air. Fresh air and sunshine can work wonders, you know.”
Yes, the body can prattle on for quite a while, but the initial chatter serves a purpose, bringing your focus very definitely into the here and now. The “here” that is your body. The “now” sensations that are no longer masked by physical activity and mental problem solving.
As you settle into the rhythm of your breath, answering each bodily observation with the consistency of your mantra, you can feel your body relaxing, quietening. Bit by bit, you begin to sense the emptiness inside the temple, the big space inside the Corinthian columns on the porches, the place where the Holy Spirit actually lives and moves. Meditation is a visit to the temple of the Holy Spirit.
In the Heart of Creation, John Main describes that holy place inside us as the center of the soul:
Through the working of the Holy Spirit our spirit is expanding, our heart is enlarging, we are becoming more generous. The change in us comes about because, in meditation, we encounter and embrace the power that makes this change possible. All of us would presumably like to be more kind, more understanding, more selfless, more sympathetic, more compassionate and so on. But, at the same time, we recognise ourselves as weak, mortal, fallible human beings. This recognition often induces us to protect our vulnerability.
What we discover in meditation is the power–source that enables us to live without the anxiety of having to protect ourselves; it is established right at the centre of our own being, in our own hearts. ‘God is the centre of my soul.’ Now meditation is eminently practical because it requires each one of us to come to know ‘from our own experience’ what that statement means: ‘God is the centre of my soul.’
[A quote from The Heart of Creation, included in Silence and Stillness in Every Season, Daily Readings with John Main]
As we leave this morning, allow me to send you with another prayer from Saint Paul, to the Romans:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15.13] Amen.
Delivered at Resurrection Catholic Church, Aptos, California, on September 28, 2019.