Every Christian life reflects on Jesus. Sometimes we can make Him look terrible. We hope that walking with Jesus in Christian mindfulness makes it easier to help people to see how wonderful He actually is.
That is not because we are wonderful. It’s because we are surrendered. When we strive to see the presence of God in the present moment, we grow closer to the Lord. That allows Him to shine in our actions and words, just a light would do through a lantern. Only God can empower us to show His spirit.
The August issue of “Give Us This Day” magazine contained writings from two believers, a century apart, who were practicing Christian mindfulness, rather they knew it or not.
Fr. Daniel P. Horan is director of the Center for Spirituality and a professor at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. He wrote a sentence that stirred my soul:
In a world that encourages us to take care of ourselves above all else, it does not make sense to love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable and heal the brokenhearted as Christ did.
The choice is ours, he said. We can “shirk the Gospel by living according to the standards of worldly interests, or risk appearing foolish because we are striving to walk in the footprints of Jesus Christ.” To me, Christian mindfulness is the best way to walk in Jesus’ footprints.
Another inspiring piece of writing in the issue came from Elisabeth Leseur, who died in 1914. These were some of her resolutions:
- To persevere steadily with my daily prayers and meditations and my communions at least weekly.
- To increase and strengthen, by divine grace, my spiritual life.
- In all circumstances to remain gentle, serene and full of love for those around me.
- By my words and actions, to try to make Jesus Christ known and loved.
- To ask that He work through me for the good of those for whom I can be the instrument of Providence.
- To work first for God and then for my neighbor each day.
- To speak to each one in the language they can understand.
These resolutions are mine as well, although I fail far more often than I succeed. If we all tried to live in the presence of Jesus in the present moment, we might make his nature more obvious to a skeptical world.
Are you trying too hard to be at peace? Fighting hard to practice mindfulness?
I feel I am striving too hard to abide in Jesus. Instead of opening the door for Him to enter, I am pounding on the other side of the door … straining to keep pure thoughts and to practice my daily round of spiritual practices. That isn’t necessary, productive or even helpful.
God is already here. Yet I behave as if it all depends on me. Yes, I need to quiet down and let God be present. I am grasping for someone who is all around me, yet my grasp comes up empty. It is only when I relax and submit that I feel God doing the work to allow me to abide in Him.
Is it just me? When I mentioned this in a gathering of Christian friends, I got a lot of blank looks.
Yet, one Christian friend responded with a new phrase I love: Try softer.
That’s the title of a book by therapist Aundi Kolber. She believes we don’t have to white-knuckle our way to God or to life, in general. Her book is a corrective for overfunctioning (one of my greatest issues) and anxiety.
Perhaps I have reached the “let God and let God” phase of my spiritual development. Yet again.
I found some tips on the Woman of Noble Character website that can make this effort to stop the struggle more concrete.
It’s not what I need to stop doing as much as it’s what I need to let God do. Stop struggling to achieve grace and:
- Look for a show of God’s power.
- Accept God’s comfort.
- Let God work things out for the good of those who love Him, including me.
Yes, I need to practice my daily round of spiritual practices. But I need to move forward in a more gentle, open manner, trusting God to do his part. Without God, I can do nothing.
As we hide away from heat advisories in sweltering August, preparing for Christmas is a fun item on the to-do list. I picked up “Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year: A Little Book of Festive Joy” by Beth Kempton for this purpose.
I already consider myself a mindful Christmas practitioner. Yet Kempton took an approach that I found fascinating. She proposes that Christmas has five storylines:
- Faith: The celebration of the birth of Jesus and the Christmas story involving church-based traditions and rituals like Advent candles, the creche and traditional Christmas carols.
- Magic: The story of Santa Claus, his reindeer and the elves, plus magical Christmas movies and songs.
- Connection: Things that connect us to Christmases past, such as “The Christmas Carol,” Christmas trees and treasured ornaments, Christmas dinners, holiday events and Christmas movie traditions.
- Abundance: The joy of getting and giving presents.
- Heritage: The Christmas practices of your family of origin and your background.
As a Christian, my Christmas celebrations focus on faith. But I was surprised to realize that my family also finds Connection as very important. For one family member, doing the same things that we have done, as in Heritage, is deeply important.
Talk to your family to see what about your Christmas celebration is most important to them. You can create an intentional approach to the season that meets everyone’s needs and desires.
“Calm Christmas” also offers a variety of ideas for a mindful approach to the whole season. I especially liked the author’s idea of spending the time between Christmas Day and New Years Day’s as a “hush” season. This is, she writes: “A time of long walks, hot coffees, languid lounging with leftover chocolates, adding birthday dates to the new diary, telephone catch-ups … and everything on pause.”
Wow! Can I have that in August, too?