I have always believed that I am terrible at keeping a spiritual practice. Isn’t keeping a spiritual practice sitting on a meditation cushion for the same amount of time every day over and over again? Aren’t you supposed to become enlightened and ethereal. I mean, I always thought maybe your skin starts to glow and you speak with a breathy knowing or something.
I had a sleepless night last week. Between then and now I have learned from a beloved teacher about sleepless nights as “Dancing with the Divine”. The things avoided during waking hours come and tap you on the shoulder for their spin. Distractions are gone, regular coping bypassed. Time to dance with what you’ve been running from.
What I didn’t understand is that Spirit, God, The Divine does not only come to me as a calm, peaceful presence. Nope. Spirit also arrives screaming in my ears making my heart pound hollering “PAY ATTENTION!”
On this night, because I had no other choice really, I decided to face it. To let all the feelings flow, to experience every flash, every boom, every gut wrenching thing that came over me. Somehow I knew it had to be done.
I invited it: “Come on in, bring what you’ve got. Here I am.”
As the hours passed and I let the feelings flow over me, I also invited Spirit to join me, deep inside my soul. I practiced what I understand to be Centering Prayer, with a storm raging, yes, but still, I was inviting the Great Mystery to accompany me as I weathered the night.
I did not realize that I was already dancing with the Divine.
As the storm started to abate to a simple waltz I began to flow through a body prayer a beloved teacher teaches during Spiritual Psychology class. There is a phrase and an action that accompanies each of seven stages of development and healing.
I moved through this body prayer, if only in my mind, over and over “I am grounded. I flow with the cycles of life…” until I fell asleep.
The next day I was berating myself. If I had a real spiritual practice I would never have had to go through this hellacious night. I would have calmly glided through all of these emotions and quietly set them down as they arose. Why did I not yet have this perfect practice?
And then. And then. And then I realized. I had practiced centering prayer. I had done my body prayer. I may not be the perfect practitioner of seated meditation or Lectio Divina. But I was able to connect with that which is greater than myself. Accompanied by connection with Spirit I had faced the storm. I had faced myself.
In fact, I had danced with the Divine.
I am an eclectic spiritual being, or so my spiritual director reminded me a few days later when I told her this story.
Oh of course. I AM an eclectic. I write prayers on little slips of paper and attach them to a tiny easel and then light a candle to remember. I slip little crystals in my pocket, not that I think they have absolute magic power, but because they help keep my sacred intentions close. I light candles and speak my gratitudes into the day. I touch my heart when I am moved to connect my spirit, mind and body in the moment. I invite the presence of the holy when I am listening for understanding and touch my belly because it’s where I feel most connected to that which is beyond my understanding. I wear the beaded bracelet the founder of my seminary made from beads people brought her from all over the world which she prays over before she creates them and I feel connected.
Not a failure. Not missing the moment of the sacred. No. I am this. I am enough. And I have danced with the Divine.