I'm sitting here this morning sipping my peppermint tea (decaffeinated) and it's got me thinking about last night's cup of tea at Borders; my monthly treat at book club is a medium Chai Latte...and usually I'm fine after drinking it. But last night I couldn't sleep. Now it could have been the awesome book club conversation--which in itself was quite a miracle given that there were 16 of us there last night (our biggest group on record I'm told!) and the music in the Borders cafe was loud to the point where we all had to scream across the tables to be heard. I don't think the cafe workers were too happy with us because we rearranged the space to accommodate the 16 of us, but c'mon, Borders, we've been coming there every month for quite some time...over a year...and I looked around the table--almost every lady had a cup of tea or coffee purchased from THEIR barrista sitting in front of them, so it isn't like we were freeloading! But I'm going to blame my winding mind on the caffeine rush, instead of all that!
I digress, because what I really wanted to write about this morning were the thoughts my brain had me pondering last night. For some reason, and I find this happening frequently in my life, the topic of "submitting" was rolling around up there.
What first got me thinking about it was deciding to say a few prayers hoping that the quiet meditation and conversation with God would lull me into sweet dreams. I started to think about the prayer of Saint Frances (The Prayer For Peace, as it is sometimes called) which happens to be one of my most favorite prayers. For those who aren't familiar, here it is:
Lord, make me a channel of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow your love; where there is injury, your pardon, Lord; where there is doubt, true faith in You; where there is despair in life, let me bring hope; where there is darkness, let me be your light; And where there is sadness, ever joy.
O, Master, grant that I may never seek so much to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love with all my soul; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying, that we are born to eternal life.
As I finished with my prayer, I began to think earnestly about the areas in my life where I don't do these things. Where I become a noisy gong banging out for all to hear: Look how I've been wronged, boo hoo look at all the bad things that have happened to me; I began to wonder how I've shut myself to understanding another persons thoughts and feelings because I want MY thoughts and feelings to be understood. Love ME. Listen to ME. Forgive ME. For a long time I lived a "me" centered life: this is what I want. This is MY expectation. I shall be adored, and wanted, and accepted. These are MY dreams. This is the way I do things. And I am right!
Through the last 10 years building a relationship with my husband, and having children--especially through motherhood--I've learned that it isn't about me really at all. I have actually gained strength from that thought believe it or not. When I think about role models in my life I don't think about the "noisy gongs" I think about the peace filled people who still manage to get things done amidst the chaos. People who channel Christ's Peace. Those who say Yes to God and No to the world. Submitting is hard--and things that are hard to do, take strength to do. Therefore when I submit my own will to care for another, to listen to another, to serve another, to forgive another and I do it with the peace and love of God in my heart, I am not a weak person. Rather I am strong.
It's very easy to put yourself first, on the other hand. I find that it often causes quite a bit of discord in a household and in a community. People don't really like the noisy gong. People are annoyed by shallow, selfish people. He who yells the loudest, and talks the longest, isn't necessarily the right one.
I find it is easier to put others first when I live in the present moment. When I am available in the here and now, mind, body and soul, I can be more receptive to what other people need. When I am thinking about a million and one other things I have to do and places I need to be and things that are worrying me, I'm not present and I'm really of no use to anyone around me.
I read a book that got a lot of hype a few years back...I mean Oprah sized hype. It was Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth." It's a heavy book and was difficult to read. But I took it slow and I got a lot of great stuff from that book. And I think once I got it, it really stayed with me. The basic premise is living in the present, submitting/accepting the present and the book suggests ways to do this and why it can be so life changing, world changing, really. Of course, there are many who detracted from the book, saying how "unChristian" it is, or it's too "New Age" or "I can't stand, Oprah"...Well if that stops you from picking up the book to take a peek for yourself than so be it. But if you can read with some discernment, and you are ready, I think this book could change you.
I'm not saying, by any means, that I am a pro at this! A living Saint! I am a work in progress. I do want to be a channel of Peace. I want to sow love. I want to forgive. I want to bring faith. I want to bring hope. I want to be light. I want to be joy. I think I'll come closer to those things if I learn to submit. That's what I think the Prayer of St. Frances is about.
And that's what I was thinking about last night...
Okay, you can shove me in the shallow water now!
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