Every 3 days or so, we are exploring the distance between the apophatic and cataphatic through the lens of Lent via email. If you would like to sign up for the rest of the series, email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form at the top of this page.
Here is the second email in the series:
Lent is a remembrance of Jesus time in the desert. Though he will eventually fast for 40 days and face of with the personification of evil, when it began he was fresh out of his baptism. They had heard the voice of God and seen a dove-like spirit descend. It was a time of light and optimism, a time where words could easily express the things that were going on.
In recognition of this, we are beginning this Email Exploration focused on the Cataphatic: the light-filled, the joyous, that which can be expressed in words.
Today’s practice comes out of Buddhist Traditions. It is practiced in that context as a walking meditation; a time to notice and affirm all that is around. Here, it is expressed as a sitting contemplation. Though I encourage you to try it in other contexts.
Place your feet flat on the floor.
2. Breathe deeply, in through the nose and out through the mouth.
3. When you are ready to begin, with the inhale, think “Yes. Yes. Yes.” With the exhale, think, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” Devote most of your practice today to this step.
4. Spend some time thinking about what you have in your life to say “Thank you for.” Consider the things you might be saying “Yes.” To.
5. When you are ready, release all these words. Spend some time in wordless union.
There is a lot to be gained by deciding, in advance, how long you will devote to your spiritual practice each day. Committing to a set time– even if it is just 5 or 10 minutes a day, is a powerful investment in yourself. Timers on phones– or even ovens– are a great place to start. Apps such as the insight meditation timer are even better. They can be set to periodically chime so that we know how long we have been at it.
One of the most significant (and surprising) benefits of sticking with your practice for a set time is that lots of important soul “work” happens when things begin to get difficult. If I have not made the plan to keep going, I am likely to quit just as things get hard. To continue through these difficult patches is where the real growth occurs
In some ways, today’s practice is the most Cataphatic of all the practices we will engage in over this Email Exploration. Through out the season of Lent, you can look forward to a new email about every 2 or 3 days. It is highly recommended that you engage these practices each day. However, if a given practice is not resonating with you, you might try repeating a practice from earlier in this Email Exploration.
The next email will be on its way Monday Morning. Though the next practice is also very light and word-dependent, it will begin to lay some groundwork for more apaphatic practices.