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There is no question that I am a Christian, and yet I appreciate some of the practices which our Buddhist brethren have developed over the thousands of years in which they have developed their spirituality. It is much like cooking great French food but using the Thai methods of steaming fish in a basket simply, well, because it works better.
In Buddhism, practitioners are encouraged to slow down and look hard at what is true. Sadly, many of the same people who built the Christian tradition also built massive churches and monasteries whose work was co-mingled with the economy and their pride. As the church became wealthy, it found this radical presence-making to be harder and harder to access with any authenticity. This is what makes a Christian career so treacherous.
Some of our Christian mystics have found a way around this by entering caves as a way to escape the noise of the world and of the church. But then the rest of us tend to find them, seek them out and ask their advice and then they have to run away and find a new cave or just give up and become a priest with an income.
But I think we run off to the mystics too quickly and too often. We each have the capacity to stop and listen to God. We each have the power to turn off electronic devices. We each have the capacity to take five minutes in a morning to think about our lives. And with prayer is silence and mindfulness. Here I am not talking about prayer entirely. I am talking about listening to our heart (where, of course, God is stationed among our hurts and longings.)
A poem on Stillness
I am God and I am here in your gut, waiting for you.
I stand here knee deep in the loveliness of your soul and also in no small small amount of your life’s sewage. As I stand here I see old things and dead things. Some of them are dreams. Some of them are hopes. Some of them are longings and some of them are sins which you have quite rightly rejected. I am God and can stand knee-deep in this stew of roses and feces in your life.
I can point things out to you. I can stand in front of things so that you do not get hurt. I can hold you when you sob over the hurts of life and I can show you ways around the sharp things here which could cut you if you got too close.
I am God and I am stillness and silence.
I am healing.