The COVID pandemic has been a great teacher. I’ve learned a lot about the size of my need for control. How many times have you thought about doing something … only to realize, “No, I can’t do that.”
I can’t see my granddaughter. I can’t see my mother-in-law who is in Memory Care. I can’t go to New York. I can’t take that vacation to San Diego I’ve planned for months. Dozens of projects and wishes are all gone in a sea of “can’ts.”
This actually can be good conditioning for spiritual formation, the process in which God forms us into our best selves. The process also can be, in the words of Billy Joel, “a constant battle for the ultimate state of control.”
In “Invitation to a Journey,” M. Robert Mulholland Jr. wrote that the United States is “a do-it-yourself culture.” We are trained to use the world’s objects and people to shape the world for our own purposes.
This week, let’s mindfully watch ourselves in the area of control. As Mulholland puts it: “If you do not believe that control is a major issue in your life, study the ways you respond when something or someone disrupts your plans for the day.”
The only way to transform ourselves is to let God take the helm. Let’s take note of how hard we fight it.
So … is the pandemic over???? I wouldn’t know. I have been fasting from news about COVID-19 for a week.
I am surprised at how much better I feel. I’m lighter somehow. Of course, I’ve been continuing to take all my precautions. Masks, hand sanitizer, hand washing, isolation unless necessary.
The pandemic has been invading my dreams and creating a pervasive dis-ease for months. Once I found out that my state’s people were no longer unwelcome in New York … where my daughter’s family lives … I thought the media fast would help.
I highly recommend it to you. A week without distressing news feels like a vacation.
We’ve had five months or more of COVID-19 pandemic news. Let’s try to step away from it for one week. The pandemic has increased anxiety and disturbed our sleep for too long. We can take a break from the onslaught, while continuing to be safe and thoughtful of others.
This Christian mindfulness exercise has us deliberately reduce our media intake about COVID-19 and its impact. Here’s how:
- Consider where you are getting your COVID information. This includes: news media (online and offline), email alerts, social media, podcasts, television and magazines.
- Think about where you feel bombarded by information or opinion about the pandemic. What upsets you the most?
- Fast from it for a week. You can entirely cut off the source or use it only for specific times, days or amounts of time. You also could refuse to read or listen to COVID information and opinion.
- During times when you would ordinarily be consuming the media, pray instead. See if we can discover more about how God wants us to behave during this time.
Give your mind protection from the panic. I pray this will take the weight of the world off our shoulders. How do you think you will feel if you can take an information vacation from the pandemic?
An excellent description of Christian mindfulness is found in Acts 17:28: “for in him we live and move and have our being.” Step by step, hour by hour, we walk with Jesus intentionally, paying single-minded attention to every moment.
An exercise suggested in the Life Without Lack course I’m taking helps us move into this way of being.
Visualize being crucified with Jesus. Sound weird? Yes, but it’s Biblical.
- Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
- Colossians 3:3: For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
- Romans 6:6-7: For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
So let’s take a quiet moment to visualize ourselves crucified with Jesus. This is a good start to dying to self and waking to walk in Christian mindfulness.
Today is the 75th anniversary of the United States dropping an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.
The event took place a few days after we dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. So it’s probable that the U.S. government knew at least a little about the death and devastation it would cause.
Mahatma Gandhi said at the time that these bombs would make peace a necessity. Peace has not come.
And, as the World War II generation around the world dies off, actual memories about the two actual uses of atomic bombs die, too. It’s more important than ever to learn about these events so we do not duplicate them.
Christian mindfulness calls for prayer and fasting today as a way to express sorrow over the deaths of these two cities and a combined 226,000 civilians. We as Americans in particular have an obligation to be responsible for making a more peaceful world.
Here is a prayer of lament and repentance for Nagasaki:
Above the clamor of our violence, your word of truth resounds, O God of majesty and power. Over nations enshrouded in despair, your justice dawns.
Grant your household a discerning spirit and a watchful eye to perceive the hour in which we live. Hasten the advent of that Day when the weapons of war shall be banished, our deeds of darkness cast off, and all your scattered children gathered into one.
We ask this through him whose coming is certain, whose day draws near: your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.“Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers”
Today’s Christian mindfulness practice calls for 24 hours of attention. We are looking for “divine appointments,” things that God is calling us to do even though they are not on our calendars.
It’s true. The most important thing that Jesus wants you to do today may come entirely out of the blue. An unexpected phone call. A nudge to reach out about something. A whisper to pray for someone. An opportunity to be loving, especially if no one else is looking.
It’s hard to look for divine appointments when we are relentlessly charging through our to-do lists. Make time today to quiet yourself and ask God what He has planned. You may get a very nice surprise!
Is it easy to practice Christian mindfulness while standing in a line? No. Yet it may be harder to practice waiting on the Lord.
The contemplative practice asks us to remain prayerful in God’s presence while we wait patiently for direction or answered prayer. This practice is all over the Psalms, especially in Psalm 27 written by David.
13 I remain confident of this:David
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Today let us quiet our minds. Let us listen for the Lord’s direction via Scripture and prayer. I always find that synchronicity is a sign. If I hear, read and see the same verse or holy thought again and again, I know the Lord is knocking on the door.
Today’s version of waiting in line usually requires standing six feet away from the people in front of you. This makes lines seem longer, although we know they are just spaced out. This Christian mindfulness exercise helps us bring some space and calmness to our wait. We might even enjoy it.
Whenever we are waiting — in a line, in a car, in front of a computer screen — practice Christian mindfulness. Speak to the Lord and seek His presence. The Holy Spirit is standing in line with you, after all.
Notice what is around you. Who is there? Can you offer up a prayer from them? What do you hear and smell? Is there a cashier or service person who needs a word of encouragement when you get to the front of the line? wai
This Christian mindfulness practice came from someone else, but I have no idea who. That person created a list of profound questions for daily reflection or examen. Although I neglected to note the author back then, I’ve found answering these questions bring lots of insight.
- Where in this day did I feel the presence of God working in my life and in the world?
- What in this day seemed like it was a part of my leading?
- What made me believe that?
- How does that leading fit into my personal and spiritual life?
- What did I do today to feed my spirit or move me ahead on my spiritual journey?
Let’s try using these questions for discernment in quiet time. They are also great for journaling.
Other good morning exercises are here.
This Christian mindfulness practice brings attention to something we take for granted. Yet it is essential for our life on Earth. The Sun.
Today, when you see the sun (which can be iffy where I live), thank God for this special star for all these reasons and more:
- It creates the wind.
- It causes evaporation, which become rain and snow.
- It creates tides with the moon’s help.
- It allows for the seasons.
- It is responsible for colors.
- Its light and heat allow life on Earth.
The sun may be just a middling-size star out of 200 million in our galaxy. But God created it just for us. Let’s be thankful.