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The flush of the monastery has officially worn off. The stardust I carried away has dwindled, and I am back to the place where sitting in silence is noisy. I had the joy of going to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit one and a half weeks ago. I have some pictures and reflections, if you are interested. I have had to revisit them myself!

My brain is rushing and jumping–I have, what the Buddhists call, monkey mind. My monkey mind has eaten some Halloween candy and has taken to jumping on the couch while listening to Led Zepplin. So what do I do during times when it is difficult to land in my heartspace? I give myself grace. I sit in the light of grace. I do not judge or condemn or get angry with my monkey-self. She is part of me. She is part of my brain processing my life. The monkey-self gets a chance to leap from one thought to the next without having to focus, and quite honestly, it is kind of nice to watch her jump.

Photo credit: madelinetosh / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Instead, I put on my shawl of grace and feel its imagined weight nestled around my shoulders as I enter contemplative prayer. I notice there are brief blips of silence–and so I enter them. Brother Elias calls this “going into the gap”. Where we slide in right where the peace is, where the silence rests, and we sit with it. It may be a blip, but it is there, and I notice it when I am aware of myself and my breath.

Grace might be a different color to you. It might not be a purple, ribbed shawl, but what does it look like for you? What does grace feel like? Where does it sit in your heart?

As you head out into the cold morning, don’t forget to grab your grace… it’s there to keep you warm and to remind you that you are loved.

Photo credit: madelinetosh / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND