There is a parable in Buddhism about a teacher and his student. When the self-important student arrived for his first lesson, the teacher was silent and simply served tea. He poured his student’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The student watched the cup overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!” "Like this cup," the teacher said, "you are full of yourself. Full of your own opinions and importance. How can I teach you unless you first empty your cup?"
A few years ago, I dedicated three weeks to spiritual renewal leave. The most important thing that I did during that time was to empty my cup. I realized that, like the student in the Buddhist parable above, I was too full. Full of busy-ness. Full of tasks and accomplishments. Full of plans and concerns. I was so full that there was not enough room left for God. There was not enough room left in my daily life or in my spirit for quiet, for stillness, for sabbath.
By emptying my cup, I came to a deeper level of trust in God. I learned to trust that I’m not responsible for as much as I tend to think I am. I learned to trust that I can accomplish exactly what God needs me to accomplish in any given day - no more and no less. I learned to trust that stillness and quiet nourish my mind, soul, and body in a way that nothing else can. Stillness and quiet bring out the best in me.
During my spiritual renewal leave, I made an empty cup. I am not a particularly crafty person, so I was actually quite pleased with how it turned out. I call it my Sabbath Cup. It’s a reminder to me to keep making room for God in my daily life. There are a couple of ways that I do that. One way is to start every single day with silent prayer and meditation. When my alarm goes off in the morning, I sit up on my pillow to meditate and pray, ideally for 20 minutes (but sometimes shorter!). Something else I do is observe sabbath from Sunday bedtime until Monday bedtime. I’ve long had the practice of taking Monday as a day off, but I’m now working on making it more of a true sabbath. It’s been a learning experience! The most important thing I’m continuing to learn by observing a true sabbath is to trust in God.
Do you want to try silent prayer and meditation, but don’t know how? Talk to me! I would love to share some techniques. There are also many apps out there with guided meditations as well as timers for silent meditation. I use a free app called Insight Timer. Or come to prayer circle on Wednesdays at noon!
Whatever you do, what you and I and the entire world need desperately, more than anything else, is to observe the teaching of Psalm 46:10 -- “Be still and know that I am God.” Amen.