Ancient Wisdom, Post-Modern Longing Part 3

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Rop tú mo labra, rop tú mo thuicsiu; rop tussu dam-sa, rob misse duit-siu.

Thou my best thought in the day and the night

I think I have experienced something close to this while on solitary retreat. But even then, only for short bursts of time. When I consider the possibility of truly living like this I get weary. I can imagine it. It’s not unattainable, but it makes me feel tired. Perhaps living in the past (regret) and the future (anxiety) is in some way less taxing than living in the present with God as one’s “best thought”. More accurately, maybe it’s less taxing to devote one’s mind to worry and shame rather than submission and adoration of God.

It’s like so many athletic endeavors. There is an instinctive way to do a thing which may accomplish the task at its bare minimum (hit the ball down the fairway, clear the hurdle, whatever…). Yet, there is always a better way which feels unnatural at first, requires more work initially and creates weariness, but is more effective over time. This “better way” creates substantially “better results”.

I was an at-best-average athlete as a youth. I could hit a baseball (not very far), run around the track (in the middle of the pack) and sink a jump-shot (from 12 feet). But I was intrigued by pole vaulting. In my sophomore year of high school, for some unknown reason, I just committed to pole vaulting. For myriad reasons that aren’t relevant to this story, our track coach literally invested nothing in my efforts. I was functionally on my own. I looked up special work-outs, invested in shoes and my own pole…and I really worked hard at it. I improved – then plateaued for a frustratingly long period of time. The breakthrough came when a different coach after having seen me fail, absent mindley shouted as he passed, “Hey kid! Quit trying to jump over the bar…you need to sit down!”

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The instinct for an untrained vaulter like me was to run fast, plant the pole and then JUMP into the air, pulling myself up on the pole. It feels natural. It will get you about as high in the air as your hanging onto the pole…maybe 8 or 9 feet…10 if your strong. But to get higher than that you must push the pole until it bends and then “sit down” letting your weight bend it even further. Then all that potential energy in the stressed pole will launch you well over the magical 10 foot mark. So if you wanna go higher…sit down.

It’s counter-intuitive. It takes a lot more work to learn. It’s exhausting to develop the strength to bend that pole…but boy, does it work.

Maybe living free of that constant weariness is putting forth the counter-intuitive effort it takes to hold the thought of Jesus himself in one’s consciousness at all times.

If you’re interested in the practices that can help create this sort of mindfulness, check out Applications!

Dan

56 year old husband of 29 years, father of two, drumming Gardner.