So we packed up and left India, and our beloved meditation center, three weeks ago. Shekina people went all directions, away from each other. It's just a short haitus until fall, when we all gather again in Goa again.
That’s three weeks without the soothing sound of crows cawing incessantly in the background. Three weeks without the strong shekina circle of sharing. Weeks without seeing scripture in a some unexpected and revealing light. And yeah I said the crows were soothing.
Nourishment is funny. Neglect feeding yourself and you kind of start to shrivel. Keep messing around and you will need some kind of intervention, and not long after that, out come the defibrillators, and all the yelling and pounding, and ominous long beep and the shaking of heads.
Not that meditation is spiritual food, its not really, although I’m sure it looked like that’s where I was going with all this. No, Meditation is a form, its just one way to get the real nourishment in.
A lot of things can do provide nourishment. You know like truly entering into spiritual songs, hearing scripture explained by a gifted speaker, being in a crowded room full of prayer, patching the holes in your understanding by reading theology, or a quiet moment in your garden that is swimming with fireflies. Everyone has their own list I’m sure.
God is the real nourishment, and that connection is food for us. You need it like you need water. I do anyway.
Sure you can haul your shriveled malnourished defibrillator-ready carcass from place to place and make a great show of things. People might not even notice. But weaknesses always show up when strength is required. I don’t have to tell you life is a trial, do I?
That’s why I've got the blues. Honestly I was being spoiled by all the rich thick silences, the open and intentional spaces we created for nutrients, the watering holes. And I didn’t really even know it. Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you've got till its gone.
So this post is turning out to be personal. Surely someone is thinking that I am selling something. But this is more of a confession than a testimonial. I know I’m putting in the terms of sage advice, but I am the real audience.
(buffalo emerging from water - chinua ford)
Walking beside Lake Fewa in Pokhara Nepal (our latest homeish-type location), I tossed out a casual bit of trivia for my four children walking beside me. It was about how the majority about how animals spent most of their time eating or looking for food. Trivia for three of the four I should say, the youngest was surely had better things to do, like admiring the size of the buffalo poo in his path.
In fact cows and buffalo were strewn about in the unused rice fields by the lakeside, stuffing their faces with every shred of green in sight, like they always do. "They’re either sleep, or dead, or eating" I said. My son reasoned that they could not possibly moo and chew at the same time.
Then it went off in my head like a bell. In a bizarre and somewhat unromantic moment of connection with the natural world, I realized how famished I was too. There they were, fat and sassy and full of everything they needed to stay alive, think happy cow thoughts, and generally get sleek and fat, just as cows should be. I warned you that it was bizarre.
Famished for God, which is strange considering how abundant God is from one perspective. Then again, the consensus seems to be that God takes some seeking to find. Shekina community has slowly become a great place for me to do that.
Shekina Community is a community of travelers. And although shekina meditation could be used by anyone, it was developed by us and our friends and mentors as one more way to keep ourselves healthy. And its started to spread, with other spiritual communities and curious individuals trying it in their own way. But come on, meditation is hardly new, and far unique to Christians.
We just woke up to it, dusted it off a bit. Its been really transforming for many of us, so much for me that the thought of coconut trees and the sound of crows transports me quickly into worship. Our meditation center was surrounded by both.
But I’m sure you see the weakness of it all. You can't have some community or some practice as your only source of spiritual food. It was not my only inlet, but one so rewarding that I got a little dependant on it. But hey, here are worse things to be addicted to than meditation.
So, next challenge. How to practice meditation when I've been revamping the classic hours of prayer, vigils in particular. The night watches. I am a night person, but those hours tend to be unclaimed territory for me, vast expanses devoid of spiritual practice. I've been trying to seed them.
How practice community when you are not physically together. How to be strong, not weak, for the calling we have of sharing the life of God in our world of travelers. Things that require a strong and nourished spiritual body.
Wow, I feel better already. At least I know what I need to do.