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Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

I’m not so good at waiting, I’ve discovered. How about you? I want this or that now. And I’m definitely not so good at living in the moment—at noticing what I have today and appreciating this particular point in time rather than feeling frustrated as I look ahead to a time that is not yet here.

I’ve discovered this with a vengeance this past week. I have been unable to do many things I normally do because of a severe lower back problem. Instead, I have had to lie down most of the time and simply wait for my specialist appointment and that operation planned for this week. Now I imagine this period of my life wouldn’t have seemed so long, except that I am in some pain. Anyway, I should be used to waiting. That is part and parcel of a writer’s life—waiting for feedback on a manuscript, waiting to find a publisher, waiting until that book is finally released. But I must confess I have become a tad impatient at times, even with those around me, sad to say, who have only been trying to help.

Then one day, I read a sobering account in Luke 19:41-44 about something that happened as Jesus was heading for Jerusalem, knowing he would die there:

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and your children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

What sad, sad words! How clearly they show the depth of Jesus’ love for the people and for us. But it was his few, final, desolate words that spoke to me most. To me, they encapsulate Jesus’ deep grief that the people had missed their opportunity to know God. But they also spoke to me personally on a different level. In my frustration at having to wait this past little while and not be doing the things I want to do, was I missing something God wanted to teach me? Was I too not recognising the time of God’s coming to me?

I stopped then and reflected. I prayed and acknowledged God’s presence with me and in me. I stepped back into God, as it were, began to see things from a far different perspective—and soon realised how blessed I am. I have loving, caring, prayerful family and friends around me. I have a specialist I can access easily and a hospital I can go to. I have pain medication and a comfortable bed. But beyond all that, there are things God wants to teach me in this time—and I am so humbled. I don’t want to miss this moment in my life that may never come again. So right now, I am all eyes and ears to see and hear those reminders and revelations from our loving God.

How about you? Are you all eyes and ears too?

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It seems to me that Christmas taps into some deep emotions in us all, one way or another. Some look forward to it and love what it signifies. Some revel in all the trappings it involves. Some find the extra shopping and planning for it irksome and are glad when it’s all over. Some find it a sad and difficult time which reminds them too much of losses in their lives and relationships that are no longer there. And some hate it with a passion and are not backward in letting others know how they feel.

While shopping recently, I overheard two grumpy, old men talking to each other in terms that could only be described as distinctly Scrooge-like:

‘Why do we have to listen to all this stupid Christmas music playing?’ one commented loudly, as they stomped along the cramped aisles of a two dollar shop. ‘It’s so annoying! Why do we have to have all this Christmas stuff everywhere anyway? It’s a joke!’

Their comments made me feel a little sad. Yet, to some degree, I understand where they’re coming from. I too am a little averse to crowded shops, tired people frantically grabbing this and that in the supermarket and inane Christmas music that has nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas blaring out as I try to think what to buy. But don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. And that’s probably why the empty hype and insane busyness that characterise this time of year disturb me so much. I don’t want my Christmas spoilt or distorted by someone else’s idea of what Christmas should be about. But I do want to celebrate Christmas in a deep, joyous and meaningful way.

So how can I stay in that place of peace and joy as I prepare for Christmas and look towards celebrating Jesus’ birth in an authentic way? I think a key is learning the art of mindfulness, a concept that has been around for a long time but is not all that often put into practice in our busy lives. Mindfulness involves intentionally stopping and being aware of who we are and where we are in the present moment. It involves focussing in on what is real and important, recollecting why it is and then retaining that in our mind as we move through our day. So, rather than being swept along by the anxieties of finding the right Christmas gift for someone or of all the cooking that needs to be done, I can discipline myself to stop and be still for a moment, to become aware of God’s Spirit within me and around me, to remember the amazing gift of our Saviour Jesus, given to us that first Christmas day. I allow that thought to fill my mind, replacing all the worries and cares and distractions and pushing them to the periphery. Then I can move forward, undertaking all those time consuming but special Christmas activities with great thankfulness and a deep joy in my heart.

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

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