By Dee Copeland (rscjdee@ gmail.com)
In John Main’s writings many times we find him telling us that learning to meditate is a process and takes time. He tells us we need great patience. Laurence Freeman tells us the practice of meditation is a great teacher of patience. More and more meditation is teaching me I lack patience, it would be good for me to learn and the practice of meditation is a teacher.
Little by little I am growing to understand meditation is a journey, a daily journey or perhaps a moment-by-moment journey. A few days ago I was standing in front of the kitchen window cutting veggies and a flashback of many years ago passed in front of me. I remembered the day clearly. I was twenty-three years old, and I had just made my vows in the Society of the Sacred Heart. I was having a conversation with an older religious superior and filled with fervor, joy and enthusiasm. I told her I wanted to give my ‘all’, my whole being to God right at that moment. She smiled and said that was a joy to hear, but the gift of self was a daily or moment-by-moment gift. At the time I did not fully understand what she meant. In fact, it has taken me many years to begin to understand. The gift of the practice of meditation is teaching me that I have the opportunity to turn from self little by little and moment by moment each day. The quiet silence of the kitchen and the simple task of cutting vegetables was the venue for a new knowledge.
My vocation as a Religious of the Sacred Heart is a gift that calls for a constant turning from self – leaving self behind. I have heard this call this many times over many years. Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart, exhorts us over and over again to respond with love to this gift. Meditation has taught me in a new and wonderful and challenging way what this call means for me in the ‘now’ of my life. Sophie, as she is tenderly called, teaches us much about Jesus’ call to ‘leave self behind’. A few of her teachings: ‘Three graces we must ask for in order to live our vocation: interior spirit, self-knowledge and the spirit of sacrifice. Listen to Jesus – listen!’ This implies the idea of the present moment. ‘Interior persons are the most joyful; they have the most engaging manner. Work hard at acquiring interior spirit, at becoming persons of prayer and contemplation.’ ‘Make prayer your delight; there find your rest and your happiness.’ St. Benedict tells us that the Christian life is a life of continued conversion – that is day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Somewhere John Main says that the daily practice of meditation is a process of continued conversion and continued conversion is learning to see as God sees which is learning to love as God loves – leaving self behind. The ‘how’ for me is fidelity to the mantra - a call, a gift to live moment by moment in the awareness of God’s presence – God’s love – interior spirit or as we hear from Jesus’ teaching to leave self behind. Many quotes and words of Janet Erskine Stuart (a Religious of the Sacred Heart – 1857-1914) are helpful and encouraging to me. Here is one example. ‘To go into the presence of God is like going out into the freshness of morning air.’
In one way, I’ve had a bit of patience (this is a wee consolation for me) as I have searched for the answer to the question ‘how’? How can I (one) grow in living in the awareness of God’s Presence? In the Constitutions of the Society of the Sacred Heart, we are called to be a contemplative in action wherever we may be. When my search led me to know of Christian Meditation, I knew I had found an answer.
Patience still calls to me. I believe it will continue to be with me. I’m learning little by little to patiently wait upon the Lord Jesus and in one way to delight in the wait.
- Place: USA
- Date: July 2016