This weekend I got to practice doing what I love, and I commend living that way to you. I got to facilitate an Advent Retreat called “Living in Readiness” in Richmond, Virginia. We practiced sacred yoga, and reverent bows, and centering, and lectio divina, and journaling, and sacred conversations, and a labyrinth walk to music. Such practices fill me deeply.
Participants shared their own unique contemplative practices, including things like being mindful of the moment while turning the key in a door, and letting one’s dog be a spiritual teacher as it lives in the moment and sniffs its way through life. People shared sacred memories, and also experiences that trip us up and cause us to close our hearts on our contemplative path. Such sacred conversations fill me deeply.
Then on Sunday morning, in a beautiful sanctuary decorated for Advent at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, I got to share a brief story, a call to awaken, and a poem from Rumi that says, “The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you, don’t go back to sleep.”
Then I got to learn from my friend, Pete Nunnally, who leads spiritual formation for that church, as he shared the life, writing, art, and music of the mystic Hildegard de Bingen. A small group of us looked, listened, and then wrote our way into sacredness. And as we do so often in our School for Contemplative Living, we followed the contemplative practices with sacred sharing.
Life is short. There’s not enough time to waste saying, “Someday I will live the life I have always longed for.” Yesterday is long gone, and tomorrow doesn’t exist. The time to live the life you want, to do what you love, is now.
As wonderful as it was, the weekend I experienced up there, the brisk walks around a new city with my wife, the sacred practices and sharing, and the amazing people who are now friends, are all becoming memory. I cannot go backwards to grasp what was, even just yesterday. Neither can you.
So how are we to live, with the past perpetually sloughing off behind us, and the future invisible and impossible to know?
Rumi says it true, “You must ask for what you really want. Don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill/where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.”
We just can’t go backwards or forwards to meet the sacred. The trick for you and me is to stay awake right now: watching for God’s next appearing, listening when “the breeze at dawn has secrets to tell,” and trusting that the divine is surely coming for us today. How do we prepare? Stay awake!