Resistance through mindful prayer

The news has been bleak; division in our country shows up on our social media site walls as well as in policies against immigration and inclusion that ramp up at a breakneck pace. Most of us are simply trying to live out our day-to-day lives, trying to extract meaning out of our conversations online and in person to help focus our concern.

Where do we put our hopes and trust? In whom do we trust? What does our future hold for us–all of us?

I’ve been meditating on prayers of resistance and finding solace in the voice of the prophets and saints who resisted oppression in similar as well as vastly different ways.

The main insight I want to share from those readings of those prayers is that prayer itself is resistance. Meditative and mindful prayers indeed are resistance; though it looks like you are doing nothing in mindfulness practice, a great deal is actually being accomplished.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, continual resistance is needed. Resistance to the patterns of this world: idolatry of money, of power, of even figureheads who claim to have it all figured out while their blind spots are apparent for all to see– resistance to shaming, blaming, and shoving out voices who differ greatly from one’s own is a path we can all find common ground.

We can resist all that by sitting in a quiet space. Connecting with God, with the person of Jesus, is resisting the values of this world. Being in His presence reminds us that we are all human, created in His image and for his purpose. Mindfulness practice builds capacity for a continual resistance that will sustain those on the frontline and those who support, and encourage those on the fronts.

Mindfulness practice reminds us that with God, all things are possible, so we do not turn away when setbacks happen. As they will most certainly happen. But so will progress.

Mindfulness practice transports us to the truth of reality that surpasses all understanding, which is that the victory is already won in the person of Jesus. That His death on the cross washed away our sins, individually and collectively. The arc of justice is His and is fair and is pure and good. We long for this.  Our Spirit groans in prayers of silence for what we cannot articulate.

When we enter into silence, we enter into His presence with a timeless God who has heard the callings from those who went before us for justice, the pleads for relief of suffering, the prayers of mercy for self and loved ones. He has heard those who carved the path of resistance that we each must individually and collectively decide to take, or not.

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Disappointment and Triumph: how mindfulness can spur on the latter

2016 has been a year of triumphs and disappointments. The long political season and outcome of this year’s election has only heightened the anger, vitriol, and de-humanization that we experience in our online or offline communities. The division that is exposed in our shared humanity is the biggest disappointment. So is the violence and the lack of compassion for those who are fleeing violent regimes.

What to do when there is massive disappointment, disillusionment, or despair? Though there are no easy answers, I know deep down inside that the only sense of peace that is to come in 2017 needs to be something that I am actively a part to help create–to do my part in 2017.

Mindfulness, in all its benefits, should be a practice that ultimately leads to action for the sake of others, not just the self. Some criticize mindfulness practice as a self-centered, navel-gazing, and naive new age-y fad. This criticism is warranted as some of those who espouse mindfulness do so out of a sense of self-righteousness and shroud their own frailties under a veil of superior enlightenment.

As a Christian practicing mindfulness, the exact opposite should be true. The prophet Isaiah prophecies about the ONE who was to come, who ultimately came as a baby in a manger, whose family fled another violent regime to establish His kingdom on earth. The ONE came to proclaim the gospel for the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, and to set the captives free (Isaiah 61:1-3).

The goal for the Christian practicing mindfulness is to “taste and see” that the Lord is good and to find refuge in Him (Psalm 34:8). From Him do we draw our strength to do good and proclaim freedom for the captives.

In 2017, let’s not forget those who are in captivity to the darkness of the world, who have not tasted and seen that God is good, and to use our mindfulness practice as a source of strength for the work–to draw from the well of God’s almighty goodness and to step into unknown territory.

May we step out in faith on behalf of those who are captive to the violence and captivity that our world’s powers succumb to over and over again. For our struggle is not in flesh and blood, but against the rulers…against the spiritual forces of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). May we claim God’s Holy peace as followers in His triumph and His alone.

Let His triumph lead us in 2017 to good works that God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

The Mindful Working Mom

Each weekday has a set of challenges.

First, the busy mornings of rushing out the door requires that my kids and I are both dressed to face the world. Our bodies need to be fed with nutrient rich food (one of my continued commitments through this new year!) and our bags packed with appropriate tools. For mine: laptop, cellphone, good handcream, sunglasses. For the boys: books for in-class reading, pencils with lead and notebooks. The husband is lucky because he logs in, and instant work, voila…Like making a cup ‘o noodles–add hot water, eat up!

Second, after we have all gone our separate ways, emails are checked, social media is read for up-to-date national news and news of friends, of course. The mental checklist and to do’s are drafted either on paper (if I have a good pen and paper and a hot mug of tea beside me) or in my head. The day charges on–classes, student meetings, emails sent, pages written, laughter with colleagues, a meal…the afternoon comes on suddenly like that car that zooms past your blindspot when attempting a left turn.

In the afternoon I evaluate the day so far. What needs to be done before children need to be picked-up? Breathe in, connect with God and self to determine priorities here. I ask, “what are the last tasks, tweaks to the next week’s curriculum, ideas for the next day?” What are the corrections needed, plans that hold meaning ahead?” Mind clear, focus attuned, discernment hopefully reached…charge on, charge on, charge on.

Lastly, children are picked up, they are active on the playground burning off the energy that will allow them to focus on the homework ahead and the discipline needed for karate practice. Dinner is on, hubby is helping, eating together then soon the bedtimes and alone time with my life partner.

 

This is an ideal day, of course. But it’s also typical.  It’s hectic and busy, yes, but, it doesn’t have to feel this way. May I suggest…Breathe in. Ask for wisdom, read a meaningful passage, breathe out the worries of the day. Charge on…but WHY the charging on? For obvious reasons: the gift of life, the gratitude for another day together as a family, the health while I am still capable to accomplish these tasks, the opportunity for influence on younger folks who want to do good work for the kingdom.

 

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For more reasons: the deep value of lifelong partnership, the smiles on the faces of those still-chubby faces, priorities that go beyond myself (I hope!) the limits of time. Breathe in, settle into quiet and rest.  Receive the feelings and experiences of being nourished and nurtured in mind-body-spirit. THEN, can I charge on, charge on charge on.