If you are reading this and you are not a coffee drinker you likely think I’m out of my mind. If you are reading this and you are a coffee drinker who has not yet tried it you might still think I’m out of my mind. I can live with that. My reason for sharing my morning ritual in this public space is to point out that it is a ritual. Specifically it is a ritual that comes from a place of desire. (I desire good coffee. I have found the best means to good coffee. Therefore I go through the ritual every morning to satisfy my desire). You might be surprised to discover how many rituals you have in a given day that you would never consider rituals. Perhaps it is the side you enter the bed every night, or when you brush your teeth. Our youngest child’s morning ritual involves a dead sprint across the house until she slams our bedroom door open and then makes a beeline for her mother’s arms. Her desire is to be with mommy.
Rituals are an expression of desire. Spiritual Disciplines are rituals. Therefore Spiritual Disciplines are an expression of desire. Christians especially during this Lenten season are always looking for a Spiritual Discipline to help them better observe this season. We believe that if we put something in our lives then we will have a deeper appreciation for Jesus’ dying on Good Friday and his rising on Easter Sunday. More often we believe that removing something from our lives, or fasting, will have the same effect. Both beliefs are true. It is also true that more often than not it doesn’t work. We either give up before Palm Sunday or we find ourselves still wanting when it is all over. As silly as my coffee ritual might sound there is a spiritual lesson; that is, Spiritual Disciplines succeed when the come from a place of deep desire to know God more fully. When the Christian wakes up in the morning at 5am with a craving for the word of God and for prayer then by all means they should get up and follow that craving. To the contrary when the Christian believes that is what he or she ought to do then it becomes just another failed item on the checklist.
This should be good news. It was good news to me when I first began to understand my constant failure with the disciplines did not make me a bad Christian (or pastor for that matter) rather it made me human. There is, I learned (or am learning) a step that comes before the disciplines. This step is one of awareness. Our first text during Lent was the story of Jesus in the wilderness when with his head was still dripping wet from his baptism and the voice of God was still ringing in his ears that “You are my son, my beloved...” The devil said to him, “If you are the son of God.” In other words, the devil’s first temptation was a front to the most important thing – Jesus’ identity. Before Jesus could combat the other temptations he had to remember who he was and who’s he was. He was the beloved Son of God.
For the Christian during Lent remembrance is the first thing. We are God’s beloved. We are loved. Some of our worst moments and days come from our inability to remember this one beautiful thing. We believe ourselves to be what we do, what we have, or what people label us which leads us to be easily offended or angered or bitter or depressed or __________ (we’ve all been there so fill in the blank). I am not saying it is easy to remember. I forget it all the time. I am just saying that before the rituals and disciplines this is the first thing and when all is said and done if we can convince ourselves of this one thing by the time we get to death and resurrection we might find ourselves on the Monday morning after waking up with a deep desire for yet even more.
All that being said if you are stilling asking the question, “What can I do?” I will leave you with one discipline. I learned this from Richard Rohr in his book “Everything Belongs.” It’s a simple prayer. Recite the lines one by one, slowly and deliberately. Between each line take a deep breath and listen to the sound of our your breathing.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know.
Grace and Peace be with you on this journey.