Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I wrote this post 7 years ago but just realize that I never published it...here it is.

So, that Saturday was a day of hopeless for me.  As I have thought back on it I have come to realize that it was more than feeling stranded and not having enough money, it was a complete lack of intimacy.  I was craving it and couldn't have it.  I am not talking about physical intimacy so much...really, but more the emotional intimacy that I take for granted most of the time.  I am surrounded by people who know and love me...often in spite of myself.

It wasn't that the people around me in Lexington weren't giving the appropriate level of care, they were.  Everyone was gracious and extended a great deal of care, its just that no one really knew me and I didn't know them.  So, I did what I was learning to do but did it with a sense of searching that I have never experienced, I prayed the prayer:  "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."  I prayed that prayer, known as the Jesus prayer to the Church Fathers, hundreds of times through the day on Saturday.  I began to pray as Father Thomas taught me to pray.

It had been a four year journey learning how to pray this prayer.  I began saying the prayer audibly with a prayer rope in 2006.  It began when Fr. Thomas, my spiritual director began by introducing me to the prayer in a book called "The Way of a Pilgrim"  I started to pray the prayer.  There are 100 knots on my rope and I would pray the prayer while counting the knots, usually 100 or maybe 200 at a time.

Later I stumbled on a book called "Nowhere Fast" a book about a man on a motorcycle trip that saved his life...funny.  I don't remember where I heard of that book, maybe from my brother David.  Anyway the Protagonists spiritual director tells him to pray this prayer.  Now it was coming from three places and I began to pray it.  I got good at it and could do it quickly and then one day a couple years later Thomas told me to begin to pray the prayer timed with my breathing.  He said that this was dangerous and I had to be careful and he showed me how to do it when we both did it together.  He finally gave me permission to begin to read the Philokalia, something that he told me I couldn't do before that time, and things began to fall into a place. 

That day in our direction about a year or so ago, he showed me how to say the prayer in my mind but not with my lips...I thought I understood it and practiced it sometimes faithfully sometimes not.

On Saturday July 24th I began to pray it in a new way.  The CD's that I was listening to used the prayer as well.  Metropolitan Jonah talked about descending from the head into the heart and that Saturday it happened.  I have always read about these things happening to people.  I have always read things like, "my heart was strangely warmed" or "the room felt as if it had been filled with light." but I had never experienced anything remotely close to these things.  Until that Saturday.

I woke up feeling isolated and afraid...lonely for the first time, and I began to pray the prayer.  As I moved from my head down into my heart it felt like I was in an elevator or glass and my thoughts were flying by, mostly self talk but also things that I thought I should do, or should have done..."if you were really on top of things you wouldn't be in this place." I thought, while my head was repeating, "Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, Have mercy on me a sinner."  "You will never experience anything like these other people experience, they are special and you are not." I thought while my mind repeated,  "Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a Sinner."  "you should never have bought that bike, you don't really know about bikes like you think you do."  "Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a Sinner."  I didn't stop praying the prayer and the thoughts went flying by.

Jonah taught me something in the CD's that I never realized before, you can't battle these kinds of thoughts, you have to learn to ignore them.  At some point on Saturday mid morning, I left my head and my heart began to pray that prayer.  When that happened it felt as if I had descended into Eden.  I was with God, I was not lonely, or isolated at all.  I was walking with the one who knew the truth about me and who loved me in spite of it, or maybe because of it.  I was with the one who knew my real name and who was speaking it to me as we walked.

While my heart continued to pray the prayer my mind began to be filled with wonderful new thoughts from the Father.  "you should text your friend Todd, he can help you."  "Ask Lyn's mom for help, it won't be easy but it will be good for you."  My heart continued to prayer the prayer and my mind began thinking differently about God, my situation and myself.

When I stopped praying on Saturday morning I immediately texted my friend Todd.  He lives in Indiana and I wasn't sure how he could help but I told him that I was in trouble and needed help.  "where are you?" he asked, "Lexington KY" I replied.  "I am in Lexington too he responded."  "What I said, you are WHERE?"  I am in Lexington he said.  I disovered that he was about 30 minutes away that in that time he dropped off all the cash that he had on him and I began to weep.   My mind immediately began to accuse me, "see if you would have listened to God like this all along imagine how different life would have been."  I ignored it and embraced my friend in the parking lot of the hotel there in Lexington.  He was in town for a softball tournament that his daughter was playing in.

Lyn called the Harley dealer with her mom's credit card number and the bill was to be paid as soon as it was finished.  The dealer called me and told me that the parts hadn't come in but that they felt badly about it and would like to cover my room costs and also loan me a brand new Road King for the weekend.

Funny, all I wanted to do was to get quiet and go back to that garden.  I did.  I had a brand new Harley from Saturday about 2:00pm to Monday at about the same time and I only put about 75 miles on it...I didn't want to ride, I wanted to descend back to the place where I found the Father walking in the cool of the evening.  He is still there and I joined him there all weekend.  Time really became irrelevant for me after that.  I listened to the CD's, read, prayed and on Sunday I got up and went to Michael The Archangel Episcopal Church in Lexington.  It was a remarkable day.

I think that the Jesus prayer redeemed something deep inside me that weekend and I had to be forced into trusting it by the feelings that I couldn't shake.  "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have Mercy on Me a Sinner."  the prayer really isn't begging for something that God has already given, it is an affirmation of the truth.  The biggest truth, an affirmation of who God is and an affirmation of who I am.  These two big revelations come together in this prayer and they are amazing.

Things began to change on that Saturday and through Sunday afternoon I was being completely overhauled....and come to think of it, so was the Harley! 

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