This morning I will return for a second time, hoping to resolve a parking citation. If we live in a “divine milieu,” as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin says, then I wonder if I will practice contemplation in a New Orleans traffic court? If this is truly God’s world, if the kingdom of God is here and now, will I really invite Presence into that odd space?
Thoughts about the injustice of a parking ticket I received because a street meter was too jammed to take coins kept returning all through my morning meditation. The insanity of having to appear for a videoed explanation in traffic court, which somehow got lost, and led to doubling the traffic fine, so that I am returning to court again today kept disturbing my practice of God’s presence. Are we having fun yet?
In the real world, which is the only world there is, this is the kind of stuff that happens most every day as we try to practice God’s presence. We want to know deep peace, but we often get a raging stream of consciousness. Repeatedly I said the core phrase from centering prayer this morning: “I consent to Your presence and action within.” Gradually this came to clearly mean I also need to consent to God’s presence in a few minutes as I return to traffic court.
Instead of walking in there mad enough to hammer a broken parking meter, (one of the less-than-peaceful images dominating my meditation time), I wonder if I could bring God’s presence with me and actually practice contemplation in traffic court? Then I remember a transformative phrase by St. Seraphim, and quoted by Dr. Elaine Heath in a December interview on Portico Collective: “Acquire inner peace and thousands around you will be saved,” from Paul Chilcote and Laceye Warner, eds. The Study of Evangelism: Exploring a Missional Practice of the Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 289.
Wow! Following a contemplative path is very hard, obviously, and today will be no less so. Can I surrender my life and this outcome into the care of God and simply be a messy contemplative again today, even in traffic court? Send a prayer with me as I head out the door will you?
For more stories like this see Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic Culture.