Friday, March 21, 2008

As I Am Able

Most every morning I stay in bed and pray. Usually, I state my intention to be open to God's will for me, silently saying something like:

"My body,
my spirit,
my mind to God.

As I am able,
all that I am,
I give
to God."
(I sometimes make this a physical prayer by standing and using gestures and movement)

Usually, I pray for God to guide me and use me and I ask God to help me remain centered on what is of God.

And then I leave my room and immediately forget. I'm like one of the unfortunate people with the capacity to remember things for only a couple of minutes. "God, help me to remain focused on you...Hey! What's for breakfast?"

Until I learn to be faithful in the day-to-day, here and now, I can't imagine growing in the Light. I think humility is what it all comes down to, for me. Humility is, like, exactly the opposite my personality and who I am. I'm loud and boisterous and ME! ME! ME! When I do something good I usually want to crow about it, which, of course, is completely counter to humility.

Tilden Edwards, in his book, Living in the Presence, gives a nice description of the Ego of ME! ME! ME! versus the ego of self to be used by God. In the exercise on Daily Examen he writes, "...If you remember a strong, protective holding on to ego self-image, you might pray 'Lord (or God) have mercy,' very simply desiring the attachment to that image to lighten. If on the contrary you notice that ego self-image was only lightly present, functioning as a vehicle of understanding and activity without a character of ultimacy, you can simply smile to God with thanksgiving. Thus you are noticing both the hidden presence of God in the day and your own way of participating in, missing, or resisting that presence."

I understand that if God to were to call me, really call me to my life's purpose, I'd charge full-steam ahead. I'd leap in and through and MAKE IT HAPPEN (whatever IT were). I'd follow the letter of God's plan without paying a lot of attention to the spirit of it. I'd have God in mind for the outcome but wouldn't be so aware of God in the details. Hmmm...Who was it who said, "God is in the details"?

So, today I pray for humility. I pray for awareness of God using the me-ness of me as a vehicle of understanding and activity. I ask God to help me remain aware of God in each moment as clearly as I am right now. I can't seem to do this on my own so I pray for God to help me.


Anonymous said...

I read blogs from many different faith traditions, and I always enjoy reading your thoughts on spirituality. I too struggle with the "ME" complex. Father Stephen wrote an interesting blog a while back about ordering our life around God. It was very interesting. It talked about the ways that the ancient Eastern Orthodox would do everything liturgically in order to see God in everything they do.

As far, "If I knew exactly what God wanted, I would it." I think the exact same thing, but then I also find that if I knew exactly what he wanted I would pursue the event rather than God himself. Perhaps that is why God is so careful in allowing us to see his will, because if we saw it we would stop praying and asking for guidance.

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Friendly Mama said...

The idea of following a liturgical system is appealing, like entering a convent and living a holy, ordered life, until I think about myself and my amazing capacity to make any kind of routine a chore after about a day. I think any system that's too proscribed becomes, for me, taken for granted very quickly. I think I need the freshness of choice to help me know God which leads to free will which leads to good choice/not-so good choice, etc. I am learning to listen for God's voice in the day-to-day and imagine I'll continue to be learning my whole life.

I think you are right on about God knowing better than to give me too much information. Pursuing the event rather than God is an excellent way of saying it.

Thanks for your insight. I'm enjoying your visits!
Mary Linda

Liz Opp said...

Mary Linda--

About two or three years ago, I started to open myself to learning about what it means to be meek and low. At that time, I made a list of the Quaker friends in my life who seemed to have the element of humility that I was striving for. Then I identified as concretely as I could the behaviors they had that reflected that humility.

Being a "mindful observer" in that way helped me get a handle on what I was hoping God could help nurture and cultivate in myself.

Also about that time, I read Samuel Bownas' book, Descriptions of the Qualifications Necessary to A Gospel Minister. As an early Friend, Samuel Bownas has a fair amount to say about being meek, and I found his words were working on my spirit in a way that I couldn't articulate.

The book doesn't speak to everyone, but perhaps you have come across another book that speaks to you at a similar, non-verbal level.

Mostly, I want to affirm you for being open to this part of your journey. The fact that you are "praying for humility" to me says that you are already learning something about how to be humble.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up