This morning, writing my daily three pages of whatever comes out first, I considered the way disciplined routine shapes us. How movement—presence to the power of my body—teaches my body it’s okay to move. How meditation—presence to the moment alone—makes room for me to perceive what would otherwise go unnoticed. How writing in conjunction with meditation—presence to the page—helps me articulate what arises in me and what I perceive. And again, how meditation slows me down and helps me with that Northerly quadrant of the Witches’ Pyramid, the skill to keep silent. (The other three sides of the Pyramid are to know, to will, and to dare.)
Yesterday, talking with Julie, I found myself listening in a way I don’t remember doing before. I realized that there were about four places while she was talking when I would normally have said, “okay,” or “I’m not sure that’s true,” or “but…” When she was finished, she looked at me quizzically, as though to say, “What is going on?” I responded, “I’m pausing.”
Now, in this case, the Pause meant that I was both listening to Julie and observing myself and practicing waiting. I wasn’t waiting for what I was planning to say. There was nothing I was planning to say. I was just noticing. Granted, my attention was divided, which I told her, but it was new, an interesting step on my way.
I’m aware that in my quest to practice and internalize the Pause, I am going to have times like the one I’m describing with Julie. It’s going to take a long time before the Pause is just part of me, just incorporated into my encounters.
For example, I had a pastoral encounter yesterday during which I observed myself at one point sort of scotching my feet around. I became concerned about the time—I had nowhere else to be—and I felt uncomfortable with the conversational circles I seemed to be hearing from the person I was with. Was I being helpful? Was this conversation what they (the person) needed? Was the fact that I could not be of more concrete help really damaging to their process? What was it they most needed, anyway, and was I part of that?
Talk about not showing up! Again, another step on the way. Another place where I am learning. One of the things that sometimes concerns me in my growth in ministry is that all our learning happens with other people, and often other people in crisis. As we learn, we bump up against other people. But I suppose this is true in life and all over the place. There’s just this sense of responsibility—not duty, not obligation, but responsibility—of which I’m very aware much of the time. Sometimes, though, I can be, as I like to say, “invisible to myself” and just be in the moment with folks, and that is time of beauty and of love.