Update JUne 2013: Due to Soul Munchies being on hiatus, the post has been moved here.
I'm excited to be posting regularly here at Soul Munchies and getting to know all of you. I'll be posting on the second Tuesday of each month and I'm going to stick to the same topic: Spiritual Disciplines. My guidebook for this will be Richard J. Fosters Celebration of Discipline (so if you want to get yourself a copy, go ahead). I first read Foster's book during a seminary class ("Vocation of Ministry", if I remember correctly) and while I liked the book and liked practicing the disciplines with a friend, once the class and assignment was over, practicing them just kind of faded away. When Crystal and I were talking about this she said "it's hard. i think that's why they are called "Disciplines"". Touche.
I'm not sure how these disciplines will all play out--if I'll just focus on only one per month or if I will keep adding one each month; I haven't really decided yet. I can guarantee you that I'll fail at keeping them, no matter which way I do it.
Foster has three different types of disciplines in his book: Inward, Outward, and Corporate.
The Inward Disciplines are:
The Outward Disciplines are:
The Corporate Disciplines are:
I can tell you right now that the one I am drawn to the most is study (because I love to study) and the one I am drawn to the least is prayer (because I stink at it).
And, so, on to "meditation". Foster writes that "Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God's voice and obey his word. it is that simple" (page 17). He further explains that "Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind; Christian meditation is an attempt to fill the mind" (page 20).
This will be a huge challenge for me, because in order to practice meditation, to have some inward silence, I will have to find a time when there is also outward silence. I have two boys. Two young boys. Boys who are loud all the time. Right now, as I write this, they are both in bed (this is unusual) and my husband is traveling, and so the only sounds I hear are the sounds of silence broken by the gonging of the clock on the wall (and the train going by periodically). It is beautiful and lovely and I appreciate it so much. I feel relaxed and am trying to use it to focus and not just to fall asleep. Foster writes that "if we are constantly being swept off our feet with frantic activity, we will be unable to be attentive at the moment of inward silence. A mind that is harassed and fragmented by external affairs is hardly prepared for meditation" (27).
And so, with that, I leave you so that I can try to figure out how to start meditating. I have the silence, and my mind doesn't feel as frantic and fragmented as normal. I'll be back next month to talk about my meditation experience and to get ready for the discipline of prayer. Won't you join me?
For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. --Psalm 62:5