Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bogged down…

For reasons that transcend my minuscule homeowner experience, my home’s AC doesn’t stand up well to 90 degree heat.  Perhaps I need to get it serviced.  Pray to God it doesn’t need replacement! Whatever the case, though, last week’s heat wave wasn’t particularly enjoyable.

I mean, mornings were mostly alright.  Evenings had reduced external pressures on the system.  But as days progressed and the sun would rise, so would my living room thermostat.  It never hit the outside temps of 95, thank the Lord.  But 85-88 were regular readings, and try though I might, I couldn’t get it back down.

Thus, evenings were spent sweltering in sticky shirts, torso and toes marinating in self-produced saltwater.  And I remembered, then, what a strange phenomenon heat can be, particularly when forced to abide warmth without much escape.  You start by noticing a tingling on the skin; sweat glands kicking in to produce epidermal evaporation.  Then, not long after, you get real, real frustrated.  Like OMJesus, I can’t stand this blasted heat!  But strangely, a next phase occurs, once your shirt has soaked trough: suddenly you stop noticing the heat as often or as much.  A kind of acceptance sets in, which makes the temperature more bearable.  And unless forced into activity, you can take that for awhile before worrying about heatstroke.  In other words, you bog down, a kind of bodily defense.  For, once bogged down, heat’s less of a problem.

But really, who wants to live in a bogged down state of being?  It’s better than constantly feeling terrible, but that’s about all that can be celebrated.  You think more slowly, move less often, desire fewer interactions with others.  Rather than full speed ahead, life proceeds at 75%.  Yet it’s not only those of us battling our AC that deal with bogged down living.  Spiritually speaking, I bet many people have that experience.

For example, has a moment of prayer or worship ever moved you profoundly?  Maybe you wept, shouted hallelujah, smiled wider than seemed possible… But does that happen during every prayer, after every Sunday morning?  Me neither, and that’s fine.  We ought be realistic.  It’s virtually impossible for most people to live in a constant state of spiritual electrification. 

Still, I’d like to hope that most of us are open to receiving it, to seeking it.  Except I’ve learned that the longer we go between moments of deep spiritual connection with God or others, the more we begin feeling, well, bogged down.  Perhaps at first, we felt the lack of spiritual exuberance keenly, uncomfortably.  But over time, it grew less painful, began to seem normal.  And maybe we forgot that more engaged spirituality is possible.  Maybe we even began to mock others who strived for such holy enthusiasm.

That’s why, this summer, I’m focusing on “Spiritual Growth”.  To remind ourselves that spiritual energy is a renewable resource, if we work at it.  The great gurus across the ages acknowledge something I find liberating- that though there’s one destination, there are many diverse ways to encounter authentic divinity.  Perhaps meditation works for you.  Perhaps singing works for me.  Or a sermon, or daily prayer, or sweat-inducing exercises like yoga.  The point is we shouldn’t simply content ourselves with going through the motions.  We can, even should, expect God to electrify our souls!  To occasionally cast over our spirits some heavenly AC.   After all, God’s not up in heaven, apathetically watching the world like bad TV.  In Jesus, God got involved, reached out to energize and empower us.  I pray, then, you say this week, “Alright God, I’m ready.  No more bogging down for me!”  It may surprise you how cool and wonderful you’ll feel.

Grace and Peace,

P.S. - This week’s spiritual practice is borrowed from Eastern spirituality- Mantra.  Mantra is meditation focused on one word or phrase.  If you’ve never done it, try this: Slowly repeat Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God,” for about ten minutes.  Let that idea fill your spirit as you breathe deep, expecting God to reach out to you in return.  At the end, say, “Amen,” stand and up go about your day, hopefully refreshed by God’s presence within.

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