Meditation & the Man at the River

October 20, 2009

I'm in a book club at my church. We are currently reading and discussing Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster.

Last week's topic of discussion was the practice of meditation. (Point of clarification: the meditation this book is talking about differs from Eastern meditation. Whereas Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind, Christian meditation is about filling the mind. Eastern meditation calls for detachment from the world around us. Christian meditation calls us beyond that detachment from the world to attachment to God.)

I thought it would be good to try practicing the spiritual disciplines as I read about them, and since we meet tomorrow, I, in all my procrastinator ways, decided I'd better do some meditation tonight.

I'm not gonna lie. It was a bit weird. It's not normal to me. It's out of my comfort zone. I had never done it before. I wasn't quite sure how.

What is meditation? The dictionary lists meditate as a verb to engage in thought or contemplation, to reflect.

The chapter of Celebration of Discipline talked about different ways to meditate: 1) reading Scripture and internalizing it, 2) releasing all the negatives (AKA sins) such as fear, anxiety, anger, resentment, etc. and receiving God's good things such as peace, love, joy, etc., 3) meditating upon creation and God's handiwork, and 4) meditating on events of our time and seeking to find their meaning and how you can be involved to show God's goodness and love.

I decided since the weather was SO warm compared to the 40 degree days we've been having so far this fall, I should go outside to be in God's creation. Because the homeschool neighbor kids were out, I had to walk down the block so as not to be distracted.

Lucky for me I live right by a river, and lucky for me (at least now; just wait until winter) I live in the midwest where we have different seasons, and this current one happens to be beautiful.

As I took my brief walk up the street, I realized there is so much beauty in this world. You just have to look for it!

  • the humongous leaves
  • the heart shaped leaves
  • all the different colors of the leaves
  • the mini pine cones
  • the ducks in the river
  • the way the river flows
  • the way the wind sounds through the trees
  • an old man with a pipe and walking stick
That man drove to the river, arriving about the same time I was walking there. While I spread out a blanket and all my reading and writing materials, he slowly walked. Back and forth, up and down the river. Never far out of my sight. He would walk and stop. Walk and stop. Deliberately. He would look ahead or look to the side, observing the trees, observing the river. It appeared that the man came to the river just to ponder. Just to ponder.

That hit me.

How often do I stop my busy every day routine to just ponder? To commune with God? To appreciate his creation? To praise Him for His guiding in my life? To contemplate where He is leading me in the present and how He will use me in the future? To deliberately set aside time to just be with God?

I read a couple Psalms of praise to the Lord, prayed for a family in need, prayed for Josh, prayed for me, thanked God for my family and while I did so I spoke out loud, specifically mentioning ways I and others need God's peace and strength and areas I need to release to God.

And I realized I had meditated. Not because I followed a list of rules and instructions. But because I, like the walking man, had put myself, my time, and my desires on hold for awhile to come to the river and just be. Pondering, reflecting, musing, contemplating, deliberating, and just being with God.

One way of meditating

Another way of meditating

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  1. I love it, sweets! Sometimes it's SOOO hard to look past all that is going on in our busy lives to see that God is everywhere. It is one of my goals this year to be more aware of His will for me.

  2. Genuine thoughts! I too went out in my back yard and spent a few moments praising the God who is splashing color around. I just breathed deeply and soaked the beauty in.

  3. For me, I find that getting out in nature naturally pulls my thoughts more towards God in general. There is just soooo much beauty all around us out there! Some of my best times with God have been when I am out hiking in the woods, or climbing to the tops of mountains. The section in the Bible that mentions the rocks crying out God's glory couldn't be more true. Even this morning coming into work there was another brilliant sunrise, and I couldn't help but start to sing. Solo De Gloria.

  4. Wonderful thoughts Jen, thanks for sharing! :) It is way too easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and not stop and spend dedicated time with God.


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