27 January 2014

One Way Monologue/Two-Way Conversation

From the moment we wake up in the morning, until we at last fall asleep at night, we are constantly bombarded with thoughts, texts, calls, emails.  Right?  I think it was last week's blog image that might have had a subliminal impact on me.  It said, "Are you listening?" Something about this came to me during morning prayer time, and I wanted to share it with you.

My phone alarm chirps out a cricket tone every weekday moring at 5:00 a.m.  Not too harsh a way to wake up.  And just like all of you, from the minute I wake up my mind starts racing through the day and what I have planned.  Last week, I was sooo tired that every morning was kind of a jumble of thoughts in my half sleep, with my head in a funk, trying to figure out what day it was, was it skid row outreach night? or Ascencia night?  Do I have enough crew? I have been trying to be a little kinder to myself and working on getting to bed earlier...at least by 11.  And so far - at least for this week - I've been waking up a little clearer.

Okay, so....we all have our morning routines.  And mine goes like this.  Wake up....and do my daily scriptural/meditative reading, and writing.  I found that reading alone (for me) was not being absorbed, but if I just focus on writing something about that reading and how it applies to my life, (applied Christianity, right?), then not only do I figure it out, but it kind of stays with me through the day a bit.  Then,  when I get that done, then it's time for prayer.  Now all this is happening and it sounds really relaxed and calm, right? Well, it is, and it isn't.  I love this ritual that I have in the morning because it kind of helps set the tone for my day....BUT in the back of my mind...the clock is running, and so is my to-do list.  In other words, what I want to do is sit, relax, think about what I read, blah blah blah...right? But really, this is the dialogue:

"Okay, time for prayer. It's 5:20...still have to get dressed.  Don't forget to pack the crocheting for the busride,  it's in the family room.  I wonder how mom's doing.  Hope she's feeling okay.  What meals am I going to put together for her today?  What's in the fridge for her? Remember to get a stamp to mail off the bill to the gardener?  What's the weather like outside?  Will it be cold at the busstop? Check the weather..."  Okay so you get the idea.  And although I'm not actively thinking about all these things during morning prayer, it's kind of like a running script in the back.

I just thought of a flashback.  Are any of you old enough to remember the old Addam's family series with
John Aston and Carolyn Jones...well on that show he always had this ticker tape machine going that was linked to the stock market -- how did that work anyways?  I mean what would that be connected to?  That was in the days before fax machines right?    (I'm going to need to google that!)  Anyway, Gomez would always check how his stocks in Consolidated Lint were doing.  Well, that's kind of how it is....the back of my mind is always taking stock of the day.

And this past week, in one of my daily writings, I mentioned the word "conversation" and how much I appreciated my morning conversation with God.  But I realized something.  I wasn't really having a conversation as much as a running monologue.  A conversation is two way, right?  And with my thanks, and praise and petitions to God, I don't think I was giving a chance to let God get a word in edgewise.

Have you ever spoken with someone like that?   Someone who dominates the conversation?  They go on and on, and everytime you change the subject, the conversation changes back to that person.  Well, I'm picturing that person as me, with God on the other end.  So this week I changed things up a bit.   I made my prayer time more like a conversation.  I would pray a bit.  And then stop....and sit in silence and listen.  And then continue....and stop....meditate on it....and listen.  It's not like I was waiting to hear God answer every single issue that I was discussing, but I wanted to still my mind enough to be able to feel God's presence.

Let me tell you...this was more of an exercise than I thought it would be.  It was tough...and it still is tough. Because in that silent time, it's hard to clear my mind of the ticker tape issues of the day.  The first day was just a wash.  But as the week has been progressing, it's getting a little better as I continue to work on it.  I'm still at the point of just working on "clearing my mind" during the quiet times and allowing myself to sit in peace and listen.  When the thoughts creep in, I try to acknowledge them and then allow them to float away. If I actively say, "OUT",  it creates even more dialogue in my  head.  The object is to stay focused on the stillness and the time I have with God.  I'm new at it...but I'm going to keep working on it. Do you have any experience with this? Do you have any tips for me?  What is your prayer or meditation life like?  Share with me.  I'd love to hear from you.  Leave me a comment or email me personally - anushnoor@gmail.com

On a separate note:  Today is Sunday.  And I am extra blessed because God has not just blessed me with another day, but today happens to be my birthday.  And although every day is a day to count our blessings, birthdays are kind of different because you get to sum up the year.  It's great to have a January birthday because we always start off the year with resolutions and expectations.  New milestones...and then my birthday, being at the beginning of the year, allows me to just take a step back and recap the year from my life's perspective too.  And what better way to do this, than to share it with you the things that happened this year :

First things first:  I'm alive (and Healthy!)!  Every day, and every year is a celebration and a blessing.  Think of the alternative, right?  So for that I'm truly blessed and grateful.

This past year, I walked in my 10th Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  The first four years of those ten were 60 mile (three day walks), and then six 39-mile walks.  Every year I walk, it becomes more and more joyful as I am accompanied by more and more family and friends who make the miles go by more easily than those first few walks alone.   And God willing, we'll be walking together again, this coming September with Team In Her Shoes!

It was also my first full year of adjustment to my empty next, after my daughter Ani got married.  But the nest wasnt empty for long because soon after Ani moved out, my mom (aka Mamajan) moved in, which has been a blessing for all our families since having her with us allows us to help her when she needs our help.

And then the little children's book I illustrated - When I Go To Church - was published. This little book was a milestone for me because I went to school to be a children's book illustrator, and after years of being able to do everything but be an illustrator, it finally happened. It's a child's view of what they see when they are attending badarak.

Let's see, what else?  This past year, we traveled to Chicago twice to visit our little granddaughter Grace...and that's always fun, and sad when we have to say goodbye because we miss her so much in between visits.  But hopefully this year, there will be more visits.

Oh, here's a big one....the podcast!  Although I had established my blog, this past year Inside the Pomegranate joined the epostle lineup of  podcasts and this week, we are on Episode 29!  Already!

This past year was my first full year as a vegetarian, so there were a lot of positive changes in diet and thinking, and I've started off this year as a vegan.

My jewelry business - Pomegranate & Eye - had it's best year ever.

There were fun times on vacation, as Ned and I took a 2,000 mile camping trip up the Oregon Coast and got to experience miles and miles of old time radio CD's, beautiful coastline and forests, Ned's first ever camping trip, collecting all kinds of shells and rocks and memories!

And....we continued to feed hundreds of our city's homeless populations with our In His Shoes crew as we signed up and became one of the regular guest chefs at Glendale's homeless shelter, and we continue our work feeding and clothing those on the streets on downtown's Skid Row area.

Wow....in retrospect, this year has been action-packed!  And pretty good for an old lady like me!!! Life is good, and full!  I wonder what's in store this year!  If it's anything like the year I just had, I know it will be filled with happiness, friends, family, great memories with some great surprises mixed in.

It was a beautiful birthday.  I really couldn't have asked for it to be any better.  This morning, I received somany hugs  and happy birthday wishes from Mamajan, Neddy, sisters and brothers, and then my church family.  And then after church, my daughter Ani and her husband Eric, and my son Nareg, and his girlfriend Rosalind joined Ned and I for lunch at my favorite vegan restaurant.  It was very special to me to see how beautifully my children have grown up and now have their own lives with kind and compassionate hearts.  After we said our goodbyes, we went to my sister's to pick up Mamajan and bring her home..and I got to visit with my sister and nieces.  And now, we're home, where I logged onto Facebook and found a gadjillion birthday wishes.  Life is beautiful when you're surrounded by the ones you love and who love you.

Thank you to all of you who make my life so very special and blessed!

No comments: