Updated: Aug 15
Towards the end of November, I began thinking about how I wanted to be during the month of December. December always involves much work, preparation, and organization and it is so easy to succumb to the pressures of this busy season. I wanted this past December to be different: not the harried schedule that leads to reactive behavior, rather an intentional, calm way of being in the midst of what might very well be chaos. I try to practice this continually, but with the added pressures of Advent and Christmas, I wanted to bring a particular attentiveness to myself, how I acted, and what I was feeling.
At the beginning of the month, I made a commitment to take a break before each conversation, meeting, and planned interaction as a way of collecting myself and entering each space in a way that felt open, aware, and engaged. What I did during this time varied between breath and body work, silent meditation, a repeated prayer, and listening to music. Having a diversity of options allowed me live into an expansiveness of thought and being without feeling trapped into a single way of connecting with God.
My most frequently used practice was a modified section of St. Patrick’s Breastplate:
Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ above me, Christ below, Christ to my left, Christ to my right, Christ within me, Christ wherever I go.
I accompanied each of these phrases with body movements, striving to connect my body, heart, mind, and spirit. I think this practice is particularly engaging, because it is how I want to live: with Christ all around and within me. I deeply desire to act as Christ in every interaction and to have Christ present–between and around–every conversation I have. Repeating this practice over and over for about five minutes resulted in feeling more closely aligned to how I wanted to be.
Now some of you might be thinking about mindfulness and I guess living intentionally is very similar to being mindful, but it somehow feels different to me. While being present in the moment can be transformative, intentional living to me is more of an aspirational way of living. This process begins with introspection and self examination to identify personal values and then strategically crafting a plan how to live more closely aligned to those values. For me this meant cultivating a practice that cultured an ability to be authentic, present, and Christlike.
I am wondering about our community of Trinity. What are our values? How do we want to live with each other and the community in which we are located? What practices can we adopt to live more closely aligned to our values? These are questions worth considering both as individuals and as the Body of Christ here in Concord. If we can live more intentionally, if we are more open, aware, and engaged, I believe that we can be a more effective transformative force in our world and live more deeply into our relationship with God.