Saturday, May 8, 2021

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Scripture: Matthew 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Spiritual Practice: Contemplative Prayer
About contemplative prayer, Poet Marilyn Nelson says, “Just put your love into your eyes and just look at the world with that gaze and that’s what contemplation is about, really. It’s learning how to find that gaze in yourself and to put it in the world.”

Maybe there’s little left to say after her concise definition. Contemplative prayer, or contemplative practices generally, became popular in the United States in the 1970s when people like Mirabai Bush had experiences internationally that changed them. Mirabai Bush said, “I was a 30-year-old American traveling in India, with the smell of incense in my hair and mantras repeating in my ears. Back then, if you had told me that I would someday be training employees of corporate America to apply contemplative practices to help them become more successful, I would have said you’d been standing too long in India’s hot noonday sun.” (Though, wasn’t it the Beatles trip to India that really brought eastern practices of contemplation into pop culture?)

So it’s entirely possible that you have been exposed to contemplative practices, not at Kenilworth Union Church, but in the workplace, or in your friend groups, or in Harvard Business Review. In an 2016 HBR article, they describe contemplative mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the moment, nonjudgmentally” or “clearing the mind and living in the moment enables an individual to access the world directly as it is, a notion known in psychology as honest perception.”

Many of the parables and nature metaphors of Jesus push us to this kind of paying attention and living in the moment. I love the section of Matthew that includes the verse above. Live in this moment, for worrying will only waste this moment and will not help the next moment. A prayerful attentiveness to all the “now” is a gift Jesus gives us, and a message that you will find echoing across world religions and in unexpected corners of our lives.

Daily Prayer
God give us this day,
Give us an openness,
A sense of seeing,
A way to be present, now.
Help us to shed the worries of tomorrow,
And hold onto the gift of this day,
This present moment.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen.