Madison pounced like the keeper of old recently on a balmy night on the soccer field.
She’s not playing on a team anymore. Her injured hip couldn’t completely heal. The life of a goalkeeper takes and unforgiving toll sometimes. Trainers worked their magic, but ultimately the pain outweighed her ability to carry on full time.
A limp and grimace were all that remained.
This day, though, she dove, sprung and stopped shots in a workout with my high school team. She’s a legend to those girls, object of fables told to girls who came after her by girls who played with her.
Reports of yellow cards, 36-save matches (a school record), and college life.
She kept goal that day like a thunderbolt – because she’d just been to the chiropractor.
Meditation supplies me that just-adjusted spark. Church might for you, with a declarative sermon or well-chosen hymn; or a workout, the kind that depletes you but also crams you with the energy to sprint all the way home.
When peaceful words crumble
To confront the world after the peace of meditation or the fulfillment of yoga is like walking out of an air-conditioned theater for a matinee, into the summer swelter and glare. It can piss you off. And crumble the peace you’d just managed to discover.
No matter how much peace you amassed on the mat (or on the chiropractor’s table), a mean-ass world lies in wait to cut you off and cuss you out.
Then you turn on the news on the car radio, or tune into morning drive-time drivel, and the peace dribbles right out of you, through ear holes and nostrils and by reverse osmosis out of the top of your head, and before you know it …
You’re caught in a quagmire of energy far flung from peace, and it’s easy to meld into it.
Sometimes the act of sitting on the mat or meditation pillow fails you, in the moment. Your attempt to refuel comes up empty. No Zen is instant; and if it were, wouldn’t you question it? I like my barbecue slow-cooked, my Zen at a gradual pace.
Besides, the act of sitting with index finger and thumb piously forming two circles as they rest on your knees constitutes so little of the actual practice of meditation.
What’s your end goal, in your heart? Of this, your soul will assemble. It’s not as simple as envisioning something right and just. Minds and souls expand to accept the meditations of our minds, even when – or perhaps especially when? – we’re not in active meditation.
Meditation could look like prayer, or mindful thought, or goals scribbled on a notebook.
This, though: This is what you’ll become. Take care in what you seek to emphasize, but also what you mindlessly allow to become part. Worthiness and worthlessness are similar, equal growers in equal soil. Plant wisely. Prune wisely.
The Gospel writer Matthew tells the only account of Jesus telling this particular parable, of the kingdom of heaven as a treasure found hidden in a field:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44).
Why did he do this?
Scholars and servants of God have pondered this for ages. When I heard it read Sunday, it fell into place on a separate plane. The peace we seek has been hidden from us; if we find it and are convinced our troubles end because we have, we’re gravely mistaken.
Found, then concealed, not flaunted or squandered, peace works best when it’s embedded in who we are and what we do. We find joy in finding peace, but to go all in – to joyously sell everything to buy into that field which contains the treasure?
Tossed, or engrained?
That’s another level entirely.
Is what you seek for a better you something you could toss into a reusable grocery sack? Or, is it something you can ingrain into your very fiber? If we find this treasure – and we all can, at any time – maybe it’s better to submerge it into everything.
Let it become part of your fabric rather than the center of attention.
If we own the field, knowing it contains treasure, how much more rich can we get?
Madison that day looked like one who’d found the hidden treasure – and lodged it within her. I want the peace to become a part of me, not just something to stuff into my pockets. I want it to sustain me when I’m fired upon from unexpected places.
I need it to defend me in moments of self-doubt, or especially those times I get too big for my britches.
I want to recognize it in a beat-up goalkeeper, and realize that the same capacity to pounce lies within me too. That becomes possible when we decide to let the prize become part of us, rather than something to have and to hold.