Last night I joined a small group of young adults for an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Mostly, I wasn’t distracted. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if I can tell the difference between a distraction and a fresh idea, another angle on my meditation.
My distractions usually pop up as a work I think I should do soon or a temptation that I need to face now. Both of these movements of my spirit get in the way of the Holy Spirit. When the great masters of prayer encourage novices to empty themselves of the noise of life as a first step in meditation, they sure are right. But, the person praying needs to aknowledge the temptation or deal with the proposed project, not simply try to ignore them.
Try to fight a temptation through an act of will. Very hard to do. Better to face the enemy and negotiate terms. “I see you. I hear you, there. There in my awareness. Take a hike for awhile and I’ll get back to you. Right now, I need to –I want to — pray.
What about the work agenda taking form in my soul? That too can be dealt with reasonably. “O.K. I’ll give you two minutes. We’ll plan together but then I am going to put you in a box marked ‘Later.’
Right now, I want to pray. I want to be aware of the presence of Him who is beyond my plans.”
I make dealing with distractions sound simple and, of course, it’s not simple at all. But showing up is.
What if your entire hour, the hour you planned to spend in silence in the Lord’s presence –what if that entire hour is taken up with swatting away temptations and projects like so many annoying humbugs? Well, if you did not succumb, you followed the Lord’s request, “Come and rest awhile.” You prayed because you showed up and stayed.
Last night, the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance was surrounded by red and white pointsettias set around the altar. The star of bethlehem shone big and bright over the manger scene. The colored lights sparkled on the evergreens displayed in the backgound of the sanctuary.
The young people did not stir for the hour.
I don’t know what went on in their souls, but I think among my distractions were some fresh graces.
I want to go back for more. I hope the young people do, too.