Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Last week, I gave a talk on how to "pray always" to a group of young mothers. To prepare for the talk, I reviewed all my favorite authors on the subject of prayer: Anthony De Mello, Brother David Steindl-Rast, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, St. Therese of Lisieux, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross.
Preparing for this talk was like a crash review of the practice of attentive awareness moment by moment.
Though I no longer have little ones clamoring for and needing attention, I still know the feeling that young mothers often experience. Harried! Deadlines, others' needs, emergencies still seem to collide with noticeable frequency. Now, however, the feeling of being "harried" is the trigger that most frequently lifts me from my panicked mind and into the present moment.
Stop, quiet yourself, breathe, and listen. You will emerge from that brief respite, healed and focused.
Select several triggers that will remind you of God's presence. Whatever you are likely to notice, such as seeing a butterfly, tripping on a shoelace, a chocolate-covered coffee bean, the chiming of a clock, changing diapers. It will get you into the habit. Notice that I've used various senses as examples: seeing, feeling, tasting, hearing, smelling.
It takes only takes a few moments to respond this way: to remember God's presence within you. To respond to that presence. To recognize the blessing in the "now."
I was touched by a small ceremony in which these young women participated prior to my talk. They passed a "blessing basket" around the room. Each mother recognizing a blessing in her life stood up, shared that blessing with the group, and dropped a dollar for charity into the basket.
"My Sarah slept through the night for the first time."
"Timothy took his first step."
"When Naomi threw a tantrum in Target, I had to leave. A woman came up to me and said 'you're a good mother'."
"Steven turned four this week."
Their words reminded me of similar blessings in my children's lives. That was their blessing for me.
- Beryl Singleton Bissell
- Beryl is the author of The Scent of God: A Memoir published by Counterpoint NY in 2006 and A View of the Lake published by Lake Superior Port Cities Inc. in 2001. She’s been living on Lake Superior for seventeen wonderful years, and spent 10 years writing two popular columns for the Cook County News Herald: Newcomer Notes and Putting Down Roots. Beryl is past president of the Schroeder Area Historical Society and a long-time chair of its Oral History and Marketing committees. She is a past board member of the Violence Prevention Center in Grand Marais and committee member for the Grand Marais Art Colony’s first ever annual North Shore Reader and Writers Festival. She’s been published in the Sun Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, Lake Superior Magazine, and The Trenton Times and in the anthologies, Surviving Ophelia published by Perseus Publications in 2001 and The New Writer's Handbook, Vol. 2, published by Scarletta Press in 2008 and was named Best of Minnesota Writers by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She is currently working on her third memoir: the sequel to The Scent of God.