This is our time.

Odd as it may sound during this time of tension, anxiety, uncertainty and turbulence. It struck me today going through the daily rhythms of contemplative practice and work and family life, of meals and mail and concerns, with this added layer of election process, political rhetoric, and media narratives. The added weight.

For contemplatives, this is the noise. This is the “ten thousand things.” In our daily practice we notice the thought or emotion, and release it. And then again. And then again. 

It’s practice precisely for times like these. A practice of freedom. Unlike so many people, though we have our preferences, sometimes strong preferences, we know how to return to this moment. We know how to notice when our thoughts and emotions get preoccupied. And right now the temptations toward preoccupation and unconsciousness are high.

The external stimuli are coming fast and furious. And this is precisely why we practice. To be able to notice ourselves getting caught in the maelstrom, and set our awareness at one remove.

James Finley, in talking about his spiritual direction under Thomas Merton, recalls being told ““We don’t come to the monastery to get away from suffering; we come to hold the suffering of all the world.” Richard Rohr echoes this notion in his recent book The Wisdom Pattern, invoking the image of the cross as an invitation to “hold the tensions in our societies and in our world within our very bodies.” This is what we practice. Notice the tension. Feel it. And release.

This doesn’t mean we don’t take action for justice or integrity as we are led, but we stay rooted in present moment awareness. We stay alive to this sweet moment. We get to choose where our awareness goes, what takes root, what blossoms.

And on a day such as this, and in the days to come, we can choose this moment. A moment of ordinary miracles. The touch of a partner’s hand. The feet of a child padding through the kitchen. A lung full of air. A cloudless sky. The risen sun. This sweet moment.

I encourage you to stay rooted in these powerful ancient practices that give us room to choose how to act. And I invite us each to find small ways of channeling the light and love we get to touch in these practices. A small gesture. A compliment. A kind word. An expression of gratitude.

Warmth to you. You are loved. You are love.

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