T minus two days to the first opportunity to provide a vehicle through which contemplative community may emerge. Temptation, it seems has reared its ugly head. Today started out bad and I’m not sure it’s getting any better.
First, I allowed myself the indulgence of a single glass of wine last night and I must have made the wrong choice as today I feel irritable, cranky, tired and yuk. Maggie, too woke up on the wrong side of the bed which was further compounded by the interruption of her morning routine, which then eventually erupted into a morning tantrum. Already feeling off-center, this set me off. I sought refuge in my morning meditation only to be rudely interrupted by a pre-teen who thought her desire for an after-breakfast snack was more important than my need to re-center through meditation. Things then continued to get worse as we found ourselves running late for Maggie’s morning basketball game only to find the game was being played at a different location. We raced across town, 10 minutes late for her game and all hell broke loose over a misunderstanding over a driveway and a snowbank. Real life, it seemed had intruded upon the peaceful contentment I had enjoyed the past few days. Under my breath I uttered, “I hate Saturdays!”
Maggie and I survived her game and had only one small spat before I dumped her off at my sister-in-law’s so I could trek it down to Fond du Lac for the second half of Wil’s basketball tournament. Exhausted. Depleted. Overwhelmed. I called Scot and begged, “Would it be ok if I skipped the noon game and just came down for the game at 3?” I heaved a sigh of relief, crawled into bed with my heating pad and begged the Holy Spirit, “Just one more hour of sleep please, then I’ll face the rest of the day.” I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and woke up exactly 60 minutes later. Time will tell if the nap helped, but it gave me a sense of relief to honor my body’s need for rest and my mind’s need for escape.
In the midst of all of this, I had also attempted three different blogs for publication today. “The benefits of Contemplation”, another blog on Mary Magdalene and this one you are now reading. They all sucked, so I have thrown my hands up in surrender! What you see is what you get – a blog that may be incomplete, incomprehensible, erratic and perhaps a little too honest. And this my friends, is real.
There is a great temptation in entering into the contemplative life, to indulge the great temptation of perfectionism. The fruits of contemplation are so amazing, providing for us a sense of peace, contentment and freedom. Disciplined attention to contemplation provides the foundation upon which we are able to grow in our ability to live a life that is more free. While this is true, there is sometimes the temptation to desire only this. Peace, we falsely believe is the only experience we should be having if we are maintaining our spiritual discipline. When real life intrudes, and everything goes to hell, we are then tempted to wonder, “What is the good of contemplation anyway….I still lost it over this seemingly insignificant situation….I still get angry, frustrated, impatient …and I sometimes take this out on the ones I love. Then, to put it bluntly, I still feel like shit.”
I know this is the temptation I experienced today. I was tempted to judge my feelings, reactions and behaviors. I felt guilty for wanting my needs to be honored (the need for sacred time to meditate), I felt guilty for losing my temper, for feeling frustrated and I felt guilty for taking a nap rather than going to Wil’s game. I even felt tempted to wonder why I should even bother with this meditation and contemplation stuff….it sure didn’t seem to help me today! Ah….but didn’t it?
Taking a step away from the chaos……I had a great opportunity to exercise self-care over self-deprivation, forgiveness over condemnation, humility over stubbornness. So while it may look like the bottom fell out…..I have an opportunity to ask myself the question, “What is the light (or lights) in the midst of this perceived darkness.” Here is where the fruits of contemplation are now revealed. HHHMMM Maybe this contemplation stuff isn’t crap afterall!