9.12.2013

The Spiritual Plan

In my last post, I mentioned both an e-mail to Dr. D. and a meeting with Fr. D. I figured I'd break up the "plan" from/with each of them into separate posts.

We'll start with the "spiritual" plan.

So, Fr. D. surprised me and said "sure, go ahead and white-knuckle through the next 6 months, I'll be happy to help you pick up the pieces afterwards."

Or not.

Obviously, that is not what he said. But, what he did say resulted in The Man literally laughing out loud when I recounted my session with Fr. D.

You see, I'm a choleric. I like a task to focus on. Give me something to read, I'll read it. Give me specific prayers to pray, I'll pray them. Though, I have been in a bit of a "prayer-slump" lately. I go to daily Mass, I intercede for others, and I say a morning "Our Father" with The Man. But that's been it. Even my commuting rosary has become nearly non-existent. Often Mass leads to some good contemplation and reflection, so that helps, but not always. But generally, give me something to accomplish and I'll accomplish it. (See why this whole infertility thing is so tough for me?)

So, I told Fr. D "my prayer life is in the crapper." (Yes, I really said that. And, for the record, I don't recommend saying that unless you are ready for what is going to come next.) I proceeded to explain that I needed him to guide me through the next months, years maybe because I know I need to pray my way through this whole "treatment without white knuckling" process, but I'm not sure where to start. I rambled ridiculously for about 2 full minutes before finally saying "I'll just shut up now."

And then he said, "well, you have intuited what you need to do. It was the suggestion I was going to give you. You need to pray."

So I asked, "well, yea, but how. Like with spiritual reading or forcing myself to do the Hours, or what?"

"Nope. At least 30 minutes a day of nothing but prayer, following the 90-10 rule of 90% listening, 3% talking/asking. So that's 27 minutes of listening, 3 minutes of asking. So that gives you about one or two questions to ask God, maybe "what do you want from me" or "what is Your Will for my life" or "how should we proceed with regards to infertility." And then you just listen. And journal. Journal what you hear, being careful not to journal what you think"

He saw me fidget and squirm and continued, "you'll probably spend a lot of the time just clearing your mind in the beginning. You'll have to firmly quiet the other thoughts that want to take over."

To which I said, "but my grocery list is SO much less threatening to think about than God's will for my life."

He knows me, smiled gently and said, "I know. That's the point."

And with a few more guidelines (like reminding me no rosary and that my commute time was not the time to do this, this was time for just me and God. period.) and some more info on the journaling part, our time was up.

As I got into the car and started reflecting on our session (as I always do since I have an hour drive home from Fr. D's parish), it occurred to me, The Man was going to find this most funny because this is how he prays. He is a beautiful contemplative soul who was taught, by his dad growing up, to meditate and just be and listen.

This is why we go round and round about trying to pray together. I want to pray the hours, a rosary, read the daily mass readings. The Man wants to contemplate. To sit. To listen.

And now, Fr. D was telling me to do just that.

I know I need to get my "scripted" prayer life back on track with my rosaries and Liturgy of the Hours. I am going to go back to the Magnificat prayer booklets because the full Liturgy of the Hours is just depressing by myself. It speaks so beautifully to me when on retreat and in groups, but daily, by myself, I just don't have the same love for it. While the prayers in the Magnificat are there for Morning, Evening, and Night, they also tie beautifully to the Mass readings for the day and are abbreviated. I have much respect for our clergy and religious who must pray the hours faithfully.

But with this renewing of my scripted prayer life. I will also be setting aside my 30 minutes per day. I'm going to set up a prayer space in one of our spare bedrooms in hopes of limiting my distractions. A favorite candle, my journal, an iPod dock (for classical music or nature sounds only) and comfy slippers are already waiting for me.

It seems so easy to say: 30 minutes of silent prayer time each day. Let go and let God.

Yet, I know this may well be the most challenging thing I've ever done.

23 comments:

  1. Sounds challenging to me! I have a hard time just sitting and listening - I'm part choleric too :) your "prayer room" is a great idea. It sounds really peaceful. I pray you are given abundant graces through this discipline of prayer!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You said he told you to journal what you hear, and not what you think. That's one of the things that I find hardest to do; I have real difficulty discerning what God is saying and what I'm thinking. Has he given you any tips on how to do that, because I'd love to know!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This does sound hard, yet, I think it will be really liberating once you get the hang of it. Thank you for posting this. I've noticed when I just stop thinking and "listen" the answers start coming to me, although, I don't believe I was ever really taught to pray this way. Perhaps that's why I feel a disconnect if I say specific prayers too often. It's not really allowing me to hear God (although I think specific prayers definitely have their place). Praying for you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your spiritual director sounds awesome! Also knowing when a good time to pray is key. For example most people recommend praying first thing in the morning, for me that doesn't work so well. I am usually slow to wake up in the morning and it is hard to focus on something because my mind is going in all other directions and my body does not follow. A task as big as personal prayer gives me too much anxiety to try and do in the morning so I take my prayer time in the afternoon which suits me best. I do say a little prayer in the morning and still talk to God through out my day but my structured prayer seems to be best later in the day for me.

    So for you it may be different but finding the right time to pray is key. I love the idea of a prayer room! I hope this time is very fruitful for you!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree with Casey. I find it difficult to discern between "what I hear" and "what I think" It sounds so simple but it is really so challenging to just sit there and be still. I remember a story someone told on a HS retreat or something about a priest who passed by the adoration chapel several times in one day and saw the same sister just sitting there. At the end of the day he asked her if something was wrong or what she could possibly have had to talk to Jesus about all day long. She replied.. "I'm not talking. I'm just sitting here letting Him love me." I have always loved that response and I need to take time to do that more myself!
    Hope your daily quiet time goes well for you!


    ReplyDelete
  6. I agree with Casey. I find it difficult to discern between "what I hear" and "what I think" It sounds so simple but it is really so challenging to just sit there and be still. I remember a story someone told on a HS retreat or something about a priest who passed by the adoration chapel several times in one day and saw the same sister just sitting there. At the end of the day he asked her if something was wrong or what she could possibly have had to talk to Jesus about all day long. She replied.. "I'm not talking. I'm just sitting here letting Him love me." I have always loved that response and I need to take time to do that more myself!
    Hope your daily quiet time goes well for you!


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I"m not talking. I'm just sitting here letting Him love me." - I think I may have to print that out and wallpaper the room with it :).

      Delete
  7. I'm not super good at unscripted prayer either:/ I love the 90-10 rule; I'm going to have to start using that!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I tried the prayer space before...it didn't last for me/us. I hope you have better luck with it. I do yoga and lately I've been struggling to concentrate on my breathing...ugh. I do go to adoration once a week and for about 30 mins I pray...the rest of the hour I think about my life, write in my journal, read a prayerful book.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Rebecca,
    Here's my post on Centering Prayer, in case you find it helpful: http://sarahwilllaugh.blogspot.com/2012/04/alternative-therapies-centering-prayer.html. I learned this prayer from Thomas Keating's Open Mind, Open Heart. Honestly, I never felt like God was telling me anything during this time, but I did notice that I became more patient, kinder, less likely to snap at my DH, and less depressed. I've just concluded that God doesn't speak to me in English, but obviously resting in His presence does me a world of good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sarah, I will check the link out! We actually have a DVD on Centering Prayer - The Man is so very much a contemplative :).

      "God doesn't speak to me in English" hmmm, maybe that's my problem?!?! I am sure this will do me lots of good - most things we resist are good for us, aren't they?

      Delete
  10. hmmm, that is difficult. I am choleric, too. I always say, "I'm a doer -- tell me what to do and I will do it!!" I'm glad you shared this -- it gives me something to think about and maybe a step I can take as I move into a new time in my life. I'm still at this point where one day I'm all good with everything going on and then in 2 weeks I won't be, but then 2 weeks after that i will be...it's very frustrating.

    I like the prayer room idea. I need to figure out a space like that in our house, but it's hard!!! (hmm, the point, maybe?? :) )

    ReplyDelete
  11. That would be so hard for me! A big thing in evangelical Christianity when I was in college was "quiet times" and I used to feel bad because I could not sit still for 30 minutes and listen or pray. It wasn't until I was 10 years older that I accepted that it was OK if all I could do was read my devotional and the Scripture passge.

    I find that Compline (Night Prayer) is my thing these days. I will pray for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I think I need a good combination of scripted and reflective prayer will be good. I too enjoy Compline - it's often what I pray right before I go to sleep (not lately, but normally).

      Delete
  12. That sounds so hard... but probably so helpful. Maybe I should think about trying this too...

    ReplyDelete
  13. You and I are TOO much alike! And The Man and Marc are also TOO much alike! It both cracks me up and makes me wish dearly that we were face to face, Sweet Friend!

    Oh, my prayers and love are with you! And as I ALSO try to make my prayer life real, I will be praying for you! Hugs! <3

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow, that is such good advice, and so challenging too. I tend to do all the talking and have felt the same way about my prayer life, especially for the past 2-3 years (ie. Since IF). I try to "put the time in", but I feel like I am always distracted, or the one doing all the talking/asking and not listening to God. My DH is also great at meditative prayer, especially Lectio, which I find difficult to discipline my mind to do. I am so excited for you and praying for you. I am also interested in Fr. D's journal/listening suggestions.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love Fr. D. It is good advice and I am sure it will be hard. Something that I when I can't focus on prayer is I have a separate list/piece of paper that I write my random thoughts that pop into my head when I should be praying (like grocery list). That way I don't have to try to remember, I just write it down and move on. After prayer and/or retreat I can look at it and remember. I find it really helps me to focus.

    Another piece of advice. I love to journal and yes some times it is my thoughts but what I do is write my journal like a letter, then I listen, and write as if God was writing to me. I hope to capture what I hear, rather my own thoughts. Just a suggestion.

    I will be praying for you. I have been thinking about you a lot recently.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sometimes forget that some of you know Fr. D :). And as I write that, I'm laughing thinking about chipmunks and squirrels :).

      I like the idea of a separate piece of paper to write random thoughts - I will have to be careful not to let it lead me down a rabbit hole, but that might help.

      Thank-you for the prayers.

      Delete
  16. Sometimes being quiet and just listening is the hardest thing of all to do. I pray that this time for you is peaceful and fruitful!

    ReplyDelete
  17. As a fellow choleric, I have to say - I think this would about do me in. Which is probably a nagging little voice saying that I ought to do it. Darn you!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh man, I really need to do this! Listening is the hardest part.

    ReplyDelete

Comment moderation is turned on so you may not see your comment show up right away.