Meditation. I used to picture it as some strange level of peace I would never attain, accomplished through crossed legs and a series of perfectly timed “ohms.” But then I read a book called Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster. There is an entire chapter devoted to explaining the concept of Christian Meditation, and it opened up a whole new world to me.
Foster walked me through the steps of clearing my mind of distraction, but I was relieved to find out the point is not to stay empty. The point is to make room so I could fill up with God. Christian Meditation is about moving beyond knowledge of Jesus to experiencing Him. It sounded way better than my previously failed and utterly embarrassing attempts at “ohming” my way to peace. No offense to my friends who have accomplished this feat – it just wasn’t happening for this Energizer Bunny!
Read the whole chapter to learn how to prepare for meditation, then try it using the story of Jesus and Peter walking on water. The goal is to put yourself into that moment in time. Read the Bible passage, of course, but it might also help to read a character study of Peter first (these are found in most study Bibles, but you can also use BibleHub) to get familiar with him. Then pull the words off the page and imagine them into action. Smell the salty air, feel the sea breeze in your hair, picture the boat and the waves. Recall a time when you were nervous yet excited to trust someone you love deeply, and feel those emotions until you can place them directly into this experience. Literally reach your hand out to Jesus.
Practicing this with my favorite Bible stories has really helped me break through my fear of meditation and use it to connect with Jesus on an amazing new level. But my previous practice felt like basic drama club exercises when I started focusing on Mary.
Honestly, I had never given Mary much thought beyond the nativity story. She just isn’t mentioned that much in the Bible. But I have been researching Catholicism, and I quickly learned that Catholics go beyond studying her character. They are enamored with her. Devoted to her. I had to know why. So I put my newly formed meditation skills to the test, and I was completely blown away. This wasn’t just reading or imagining. This one brought me through a heart pounding, tears streaming, goosebump inducing experience.
Here’s an excerpt from my journal, written after this meditation, to show you what I mean…
When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” ~Luke 2:48-49 (NIV)
I can see Him more clearly through her.
Feeling the edges of what she felt.
Adoring love, magnified with responsibility.
But how can one be responsible for God?
A mysterious desire to protect someone who can’t possibly need protecting.
Somehow confidence and comfort can give way to neglect.
So used to His presence, I didn’t notice at first that He had slipped out of my sight.
Why would He treat me like this? Silently absent…
But it wasn’t Him. It was me.
He stayed true to His path while I wandered away.
Concern became panic; my carelessness exposed an anxious need to find Him.
My heart pounding in rhythm with hers, I searched everywhere for Jesus.
In all the usual places.
Among all the familiar faces.
He wasn’t there.
Had I imagined Him all this time? Impossible.
I looked harder. Dug deeper. Raced faster.
Feet weary, breath ragged, I collapsed to my knees at the door of His Father’s house.
It had been there all along, this house. Majestic, unwavering – just like Him.
Spending every ounce of desperate energy, I knocked.
Please, God. Let Him be here.
Please, God. Let me in to see my Lord.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” ~Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)
I can see Him more clearly through Mary.
We lost Him in different ways in different centuries in different cultures, but I have felt the edges of what she felt.
Relief mixed with frustration.
Why was I searching? I should have known where He’d be.
I’ll never let Him out of my sight again.
God’s Son. Mary’s Son. Our Savior, the Lamb. Jesus, the King.
So this is why I meditate on His Word. It helps me to feel Him, hear Him, and know Him. And this is why Catholics adore Mary. Not because they idolize her. Because she can bring us all so much closer to Jesus. He is the reason.
He is the experience.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, thank you. You agreed to be the vessel, to bring Him into this world. And you’re bringing Him to me still. I thought I knew Him, but I didn’t. Not fully. Not really. Not until I met you, and you helped me find Him all over again. Not until I saw Him through your eyes, experienced Him through your heart and felt Him in mine. Thank you.