Meditation Monday

171393170photo by Thomas Barwick, Getty Images …. During my recent month-long sabbatical, I was privileged to participate in a Credo conference, sponsored by our Presbyterian Board of Pensions. “Credo” is a Latin term, meaning “I believe.” In this context, it also was an acronym: “Clergy Reflection, Education, Discernment Opportunity.” The Credo conference was a rare opportunity for eight days of training and practice in community, focusing on spiritual development, emotional and physical health, financial health, and vocational development, culminating in a Credo plan for each participant.

The most important insight of the week came in two parts. First, I paid attention to the results of a “vocational profile,” scored by a team of people who know me well, and, separately, scored by me. The only significant gaps between self-perception and scorers’ perceptions were in the category of “fashioning your life,” or what I might label simply “self-care.” Second, I listened with deepening interest to a colleague describe the pressures of ministry obligations, and the resulting damage to his health. As he described what it feels like to face a full week, then add emergency calls, unplanned meetings, and seemingly urgent projects, I recognized that his story was mine as well. More and more, when my calendar and checklist says, “John, it’s time to move to the next person, event, appointment, or project,” my body responds with tight muscles, chronically elevated pulse, and insomnia.

This insight, combined with other Credo experiences, eventually led to the first clear objective of my Credo plan: I will develop deeper mindfulness through scripture, supplemental reading, meditation, and journaling. I will ‘mind the gap’ between my public and private personas, especially when the gap widens. As I thought about how to make the objective specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based, I decided that weekly I would devote five time blocks of thirty minutes each to new meditative practices. Such meditative practices, I now believe, are not merely helpful to my moral growth or mystical relationship with God. They are essential to my physical and emotional health. I’m not just a soul riding along in a body that can be overused without consequences, but rather a mind-soul-body creation of God that requires proper care and stewardship.

There’s a quotation attributed to Martin Luther that is translated: I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer. I’ll never be as wise and faithful as Martin Luther, but I think I understand and appreciate his sentiment more deeply than ever before. Next week, I plan to share more about my new practices.

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~ by JohnH1962 on November 9, 2015.