Abiding

Sam and Rocky

I was lying on the floor, face down, this morning, surrendering my life to God once again, and remembering my last conversation with Sr. Jane, my spiritual director. After telling her of my challenge to stay in the present moment when my mind keeps trying to leap forward into the future, Jane invited me to close my eyes and become still within. Then she suggested I let an image come to mind to help ground me in the present moment. The clear image arose quickly.

I saw my own feet standing on a balance beam. I was aware that I needed to keep my vision on the beam underneath my feet, to feel my stance in the present moment. I was also aware that if I tried to look too far ahead on the beam I would fall off. The stance was precarious in one way, with empty space on each side, and solid in another way, because there was enough smooth wood beneath my feet to support me.

The message of the balance beam image seemed to be, “Stay right here.” This reminds me of a beautiful invitation from Jesus: “Abide in me, as I abide in you.” Lying on the floor was a way of abiding, an experience of surrender into the presence supporting me. Standing still on the balance beam was another way of abiding. When my mind tries to leap forward in these days, I need this image to call me back to abiding in God in the present moment.

The scene of Sam abiding with Rocky, his dog, in the photo above is another image of how quieting to the soul abiding can be. The word Jesus used for “abide” can also be translated “make your home in me.” That photo captures what it is like to make our home in love, in a practical and real way. You can just see the loving embrace of boy and dog. You can see relaxation, letting go, non-striving, inner stillness. You can see mutual love. I believe you can see what abiding looks like.

Exercise: Now close your eyes and ask for your own image to appear. See what image arises in you to express your own sense of abiding in God. Do not try hard to come up with something. Just let go, and let your personal image come. Do not edit it or try to change it. There is a place in the soul where you and God are one. Abide there, take your time, and let an image of abiding arise from that soul place.

As we walk the astonishing journey this week, there is no better way than to practice our abiding in the very presence of God. Our particular images are here to help us abide. Today I am standing on my balance beam. Where are you?

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About soulcare4u

I am the author of Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic World, published by Wipf & Stock and available through Amazon.com; and of a blog on Wordpress.com, "A Contemplative Path." I serve as the founding spiritual director of The School for Contemplative Living (www.thescl.net), adjunct faculty of Loyola University, and as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director in private practice.
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