In response to my post on God’s stickiness – or lack thereof – Jillian writes this:
At times, when I feel unable to reach that inner place in which prayer is completely genuine, freed of worldly dross, when I feel blind to its perspective and overrun by worldy and selfish concerns, I find a quiet place and read a little in some book or certain kinds of music. Julian of Norwich’s “Revelations of Divine Love” is a marvel, sometimes the Bookmark of Teresa of Avila is quite enough. (‘La pacienza todo lo alcanza’.) The great mystics are the experts and great teachers of prayer; it is their art and science, after all, and one should learn from the best.
There is an wonderful Jewish literature on the tension/conflict between prayer and worldly living. It’s formulated as a polarity of ‘keva’ (discipline, i.e. mandatory regular ritual) and ‘kavanah’ (intention, i.e. ability to bring passion and attention into prayer). I recommend Abraham Joshua Heschel’s “God In Search of Man” as one of the great religious texts in this and many other regards. (Don’t worry about your Christian convictions being offended, affected, or contradicted, and there is much you will learn about Jewish religious passion and commitment to Judaism. Pope John XXIII read the book and loved it, telling Heschel to write more books of that quality at the audience Heschel was given in the Vatican.)
Heschel’s shorter meditation “The Sabbath” is more explicitly about prayer and greatly
What strikes me over and over again about holy people is the simple persistence in doing little things – being quiet, praying, listening, meditating. I tend to think that I have to do big things to draw me nearer to God. I wonder sometimes if that is because I am afraid what God will do with me in the little things.