Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Discipline of Discomfort

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?
   and why are you so disquieted within me?
Put your trust in God;
  for I will yet give thanks to him, 
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

Psalm 42:6-7

I wake in the artificial darkness of the hotel room, the curtains keeping out even the hint of dawn. It could be three a.m. or nine, with no natural light to tell the time. Somewhat reluctantly, I come fully awake.

I set myself up to pray, and am discontent. I miss the comforts of home and of my prayer space. No comfy chair. No afghan. No cup of hot, hot tea. And I realize that I have come to enjoy a kind of familiar security when I settle in to draw near to the holy.  But this is part of the wilderness road, learning to pray when it is uncomfortable and unfamiliar, when it is ugly and uncertain. Learning to lift my voice in praise and thanksgiving when my back is a bit sore and I am missing my tea and the surroundings are disagreeable.

Sometimes I don’t get to settle into prayer. Sometimes I do not get to feel all cozy before I sink into meditative bliss. Sometimes worship and adoration and supplication are just plain hard to come by. But the discipline of the desert way is one of trust. To trust the preparation and the practice. To trust that God knows the way when I do not. To know that even when my attempts are feeble, God’s graciousness is full.

So I ask God to open my lips, and am thankful.