Beyond Blue

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On Mindful Monday, my readers and I practice the art of pausing, TRYING to be still, or considering, ever so briefly, the big picture. We’re hoping this soul time will provide enough peace of mind to get us through the week!

As I mentioned on Ash Wednesday, I am going to devote the six Mondays of Lent to the practices of simplification and mindfulness that Abby Seixas describes in her book, “Finding the Deep River Within,” since I’m in desperate need of that river!

Her first practice is what she calls taking “time in”:

  • It is time without interruption, distraction, or multitasking.
  • It is time spent by yourself, with yourself.
  • While you might be doing an activity, the emphasis is on BEING with yourself more than on DOING the activity.

Basically, this time is for renewing yourself and growing comfortable in solitude. It is learning how to be still, and therefore opening yourself to the dance, as T.S. Eliot explains:

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh or fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards, 
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

As a mom of young kids and a blogger who is supposed to be active in a half-dozen social-networking sites, distraction is inevitable. Just as I’m downloading David’s school schedule from his teacher’s website, I get an e-mail about some hot topic that would give me lots of traffic if I decided to write a quick post about it. I can’t make the distraction go away. And although presently I can’t off and hike the Himalayas in search of peace and serenity, I can take mini retreats from my chaotic world.

I find such wisdom and solace in Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s classic, “Gift from the Sea”:

With a new understanding, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women. I am convinced it has nothing to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children. It has to do primarily with distractions. The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls–woman’s normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life. The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forced tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.

I think my problem is that I have too many layers between my mind (which comes with plenty of content already) and things (if tomorrow is gym day for David, cutting out pictures of items that begin with R for Katherine’s R week, and doing my best not to eat the candy that came home in the kids’ bags). Solitude, according to Thomas Merton in his book “Thoughts in Solitude,” is about cutting away at those layers:

The solitary life, being silent, clears away the smokescreen of words that we have laid down between our minds and things. In solitude we remain face to face with the naked being of things. And yet we find that the nakedness of reality which we have feared is neither a matter of terror nor for shame. It is clothed in the friendly communion of silence, and this silence is related to love.

And this silence is related to love. Amen.

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