“As the hind longs for the running waters, so my soul longs for you, O God. A thirst is my soul for the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?” - Psalm 42:2-3
Do you ever feel yourself forcing yourself to pray a certain way? Or trying to “get something out of prayer.” Sometimes I want prayer to do something or be a certain way, rather than simply showing up and allowing God to take the lead. This year, I found it hard to choose something to “do” for Lent or to find something to “give up.” However, as Lent has progressed I have found myself using these daily reflections as well as the Give Us This Day book with daily readings and prayers. My Lent became less about forcing something and more about recognizing and acknowledging the thirst for God within me.
When a movement, such as typing on a keyboard or riding a bicycle is repeated over time, we develop a form of muscle memory that frees our bodies to perform the function without thinking as hard, thereby leaving more mental space available for other things. This Lent I had two experiences of muscle memory that reaffirmed my own innate sense of God: once during a guided meditation and once during a ballet class.
I had been trained in classical ballet for 16 years, but had not taken a ballet class in almost 10 years before this past Tuesday. When the class began with a very traditional series of exercises and warm ups, I found that while my stamina was not what it used to be, my body remembered the motions and felt at home during the class. I realized that all the other forms of physical activity like yoga and zumba that I had tried over the years had not filled a certain need for form and structure that allowed me to relax the way the continuity of a ballet class did. For an hour and a half, I stopped fighting against my body and allowed by body to be in control of the movements.
Similarly, during a recent guided meditation, I found myself drawn to a certain image and kept fighting against the guided meditation in order to remain there. At first I was frustrated with myself for being “distracted” but I began to realize that the guided meditation was a crutch I no longer needed and that I could instead trust more that God was leading me in my prayer. It was an invitation to show up to prayer and simply allow God to happen .
Am I still trying to “force” my Lent, or my prayer, to happen? Is there some way I am invited to get even more in touch with my own thirst for God, and God’s longing for me?
reflected by Jen Coito