All truth is God's truth, right? I remember way back in middle school thinking that meditation was what weird people do while assuming the lotus position. Then it was one of those naughty words in the KJV that my sunday school teacher had to explain away, "meditation is all that bad new age emptying-your-mind-stuff, read the word as 'devotions' or 'Bible study' or 'prayer' or something."
A few months ago I heard an article on NPR about this guy who went to Tibet to study with some monks for a while. He came back to the US and wrote a book about meditation and how it is really good for people; about how it decreases your cholesterol and increases your mental focus and lowers your car insurance by at least 20% per month and stuff like that. Then the interviewer asked him to describe the process of meditation. The monk-laureate outlined a surprisingly simple method:
-select a single idea or object
-look at the idea from every angle, think about what other people might do with that idea, how does it make you feel, does it float or sink in water, what have people written about it, does it melt, how do most people react to it, can you break it apart or add to the object, where does it show up most often, etc.
-focus on what it means to you personally or how it affects your behavior
*POOF* you meditated
The object of my meditation since hearing the broadcast has been the compassion of Christ. When did He feel compassion? For how long? On whom did He have compassion? What did He do after He felt compassion? What did He say about His compassion? How often did He feel it? Was His compassion easily triggered?
The answers to these questions draw a big red circle around the fact that the last step is extremely hard to implement. I completely lack compassion. My very nature cringes at some of the fellow clods on whom Christ was so easily compassionate. It is easier when you surround yourself with people that don’t need your compassion.
I've been training my replacement for about a week before I left my petty-cash job this past Thursday. Christ would have compassion for him. He definitely fits the description in Matthew 9:36. But when I'm working along side this guy who is a little younger than I and he's telling me about how he doesn't like his wife even though he loves his kids and that he's tried to do stuff to make her leave him in the past but it never worked and that he'll probably leave her when something better comes along and how he's lied about quitting the drugs but he feels like he can tell me about it because something makes him trust me and I just want to clam up and go far away and mop something. But I drum up the nerve to converse. I try to think about what Christ would see: a depraved, lost soul as rotten to the core as I am and in desperate need of healing.
The interesting thing about Christ's compassion is that it never comes without an immediate action. Christ's compassion makes Him heal someone, feed five thousand people, or deliver salvation. Compassion without action is empty. It doesn't exist. And that's where meditation fails. Everything works perfectly in theory (especially the scenarios in my head where my coworker gets saved and becomes a travelling evangelist who preaches about how to let God fix your family), but practice seems too esoteric to the theorist now without a petty-cash job. But he has my phone number and I know where he takes lunch breaks.
My life is a roaring prestissimo with aptly placed largos and adagios that soften the rush. It is funny to me how themes repeat in life.
The other morning at my petty-cash job a coworker and I discussed lunch plans. This is routine because there are about fifteen restaurants within the half-hour lunch break radius. We separate at lunch and report back with critiques on the latest find. I hit the local 'Roly-Boly,' a wrap joint that manages to work a chunk of avacado into every menu item. My coworker had more trouble singling one out from the list. So he let his stomach do the walking. He had a huge ice cream sundae from a new place just across the parking lot. His justification?
"I guess since I'm an adult now I can do all the stuff that I wanted to do as a kid."
It made me laugh because I do the same stuff for the same reason. The more I think about it the more I believe that either discretion is lost on my generation or our parents are losing out on the finer things in life. Last week a lady eyeing my housemate's buggy at the local 'Sam's Club' politely intoned that the items he had collected weren't food. The root-beer, pringles, easy-mac, lunchmeat, and cinnabuns seemed pretty good to me (don't worry, mom, I made a zuccini on red beans and rice sauté last week for a dinner party; I promise that I'm not mal-nourished).
The next adagio is scheduled for the 28th when I stop working at my petty-cash job. My coworker already beat me to the door. He's been running an internet server out of his bedroom since he was in high school. It recently started paying the school bill. I've decided to stop because I just picked up my second dream job and I don't want to shelve Christmas ornaments much longer (yes, they started decking the aisles about a month ago!). The two jobs make up a beautiful fugue in my schedule. Dream Job the First is with 3K which is far too awesome to describe; great clients, great coworkers, great relationships. Then I'll be designing websites for a local collective of marketers, programmers, designers, and internet yogi. My boss's office is the 'Atlanta Bread Company' on South Pleasantburg RD. I've taken the 'Underground' as mine (the mexican mocha is the latest flavor of choice).
I think the marked advantage to being an adult as opposed to being a child is that you can opt out.
Thursday was hide-and-seek night among the kids at the apartment complex (boys against girls of course). Scott and Sean were team captains because they had walkie-talkies. But the girls were greater in number so we lost. We filled the remainder of the night with ghost stories and chewed on ice in the heat of the South Carolina night. The prolonged chorus of cicadas were our day's evensong and matin.
Micah's is one of two pieces from BJU Press Advertising and Design that won the In-house design award for outstanding design from an art group operating within a parent company (they're in the house, so to speak).
You can read more about it here.
So great congradulations are in order for our local yokel, now doubly published. Afferim!
I am officially finished with school. The final exam today adequately terminated my two week session covering sixteenth century literature.
The crazy thing about the class was that it covered so much information. Only a teacher as amazing as Dr. Silvester could tie it all together into a comprehensive little package that included over a hundred years of literature, philosophy, and politics (not to mention the intricate family trees of the Brittish monarchs and the historical and cultural setting in which they lived).
For the first week or so of the class I thought I was possessed. All I could think about was what one author would have said in a particular situation or how people at one point or another were bevaving more neo-platonic than aristotelian. It was really bad. But as the lectures continued I gradually realized that the cannon of renaissance/reformation thought is still applicable today. Five hundred years ago they were thinking and writing abuot everything from philosophy of education to kissing. It wasn't that I was cramming all this stuff into my busy head that made it come up all the time. It is the fact that people ages ago have already thought through the same things that most of us are parcing together today. Pretty cool.
So here are some free tidbits from class:
-Read something that's over at least five hundred years old, don't fall into the self-help book rut.
-"'Sprezzatura' = 'Cool'" (from the chalkboard of the Great Silvester)
-"'Scruz' means basically to squeeze the life out of." (the word occurs twice in Book II of the Faerie Queen)
-Pets can go to heaven too, read CS Lewis
-don't discuss the matter of music standards, artistic taste, or the integral role of poetry in society with anyone until they've read this