“It’s exhausting being in a place where everything is new.” Catie Greene, leader of the Centennial Home, shared this simple wisdom a few weeks ago and what a truth I have found it to be. Also, I’d like to add it’s exhausting living in the present.
I find myself nestled in my bed, heavy eyelids, writing this post-visit to Colorado Springs for the Episcopal Convention for the Diocese of Colorado. It was a definite whirlwind as I’m sure you can picture the scene: meeting new people, experiencing a beautiful church service at Grace and St. Stephen’s Cathedral, spending time with the St. Columba corps members, and attending seminars on a variety of topics. It was the kind of Convention that invites attendees to participate in learning, listening, and going a bit deeper; lessons we need to return to again and again. Although this was the case, I found myself struggling with this particular distractor and it goes by the name of Brittany’s mind.
I’m not sure if you can relate, buy my mind wanders. A LOT. Since this move to Colorado, my mind has been running to random thoughts and places more frequently. All this to say, being present — something I try to do and believe to be of the utmost importance in being human— is, in actuality, really difficult. There are easy, daily habits I think we all use to avoid being fully present and sometimes they are subtle. Something that has arisen for me is using the internet to escape my own experience and emotions of the day. My knee jerk reaction has been to scrutinize myself when I’m avoiding and missing what’s before me. Over the weekend, a thought came to mind: how can I be aware of the weight of living in the here and invite myself back when I meander?
On the final morning of Convention, I attended a seminar called, “Bridging the Chaos with Contemplative Living.” If you know me, this title alludes to many conversations and insights that get me fired up, hearing God within the noise. The resonance and challenge contained in the message Andrew Cooley shared left me wordless (which was fitting with the whole silence piece). At one point in the session, we meditated for 20 minutes in a room full of 50 people— and even though I enjoy this, I was nervous because I don’t regularly engage in this practice, for which my mind was already sprinting to the place of ‘how are you going to focus?’ However, during this time, something beautiful happened. After a few minutes, the detour thoughts didn’t pop up as frequently and a rhythm of peace covered me. I recognized my muscles suddenly relaxing and I wasn’t doing anything. I was aware of being in my body, the room, and the conference center. I was where I was, wholly.
Reality is, we live in a world that is noisy and persuading us to be loud, but what if we didn’t rush to speak or reside in our mass quantity of thoughts? What if we are missing the voice and invitation to hear God because we are pitching a tent with __(anxiety)__? I write these questions as they are being processed and wrestled — but unanswered all the well. This living thing is a process of learning and messing up quite a bit, but still there is an invitation for ourselves to daily be where we are, even if we are struggling to focus. Silence, as of lately for me, is experienced through a walk around the neighborhood — which grounds me in my humanity, connection to all of creation, spirituality, and emotional well-being. Discovering how silence can be experienced personally is the kindest gift we can give both ourselves and those we are communing alongside. Cheers to learning to accept (and reaccept) the holy invitation again and again to participate in this moment.