The other morning, during meditation, I was upset about something. It kept dogging me and I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was mostly a God thing. I’ve been wishing I had a clearer idea of what that’s all about. Wishing I had an unequivocal faith. Or even a part time certainty that God exists and knows me. Barring that, I’d love to be able to shake the feeling that this is just a giant hoax on us all. Anyway, I found myself praying for a sense of the Divine. What would it feel like? I mean, really, if God were really real, and I had a connection? Unable to come up with an answer, I began to pray a sort of whiny victimy prayer. “Help me feel You. Help me open to Your presence.”
Immediately, cold water on my face, and an informative little parable came bubbling up in me. Picture this: If somehow the Dalai Lama himself was coming to my house–all the paperwork approved, arrangements made, plane tickets bought, car service reserved…and now suddenly I’m actually faced with His Holiness’ imminent arrival…what would I do? Honest question, what would be my actions?
I would clean. I would deep-clean like crazy. I would sweep and swiffer the floors, wipe down all the counters. I would get rid of the clutter. I would buy flowers, beautiful flowers, and I would arrange them artfully everywhere. I would light candles. I would set out fresh fruit and nuts and delicious little finger foods. I would have such a happy heart, and I would clear the detritus out of my house like nobody’s business. But at no time would I get him on the phone, and then ask him in a sad little voice to help me feel his presence.
“SO QUIT PRAYING AND CLEAN YOUR HOUSE!” came the unequivocal, certain response. The (Un)Answer to my prayer. “(Un)” because on the one hand, I don’t really ‘feel the divine presence’ in that soft, cushy, sort of “high” way that I was looking for; but on the other hand, “Answer” because wow…a smack in the head Answer.
Ok…but so now what? What does it look like to ‘clean my house’?
Well, I can look at my internal environment, for starters. Watch my thoughts, clean up my act. I can clear out the clutter of unnecessary babble (watch the quality of my speech). I can put some muscle into living my life with more integrity, saying truly what I mean as kindly as possible, instead of what I think will make me look good to you. I can return to the present moment, over and over, realizing that everything else is complete bullshit (fantasies about the future, regrets about the past, obsessing about what I should do next).
And because I’ve started cleaning my house, I have a little better sense of what connection to the divine might feel like. Right now, with the laptop keys under my fingerpads, and the sweet whooshwhisper of the air conditioning, and my clock reminding me that in a couple minutes I have to leave for yoga. Now. This is me in the presence of God. And it is a frickin’ miracle. Every Now we get is God, sitting right next to us–maybe watching tenderly to see if we notice.
So what about you? Want to try this exercise? Go ahead. Think of the highest spiritual being you can come up with, human or not. Imagine that this being were actually, physically coming over to your house this coming Saturday–what would you do? Really flesh out your actions as fully as possible. And then, take some time to translate those actions into something you can do right now, internally. In your mind. In your spirit.
Then go do it.
May all your prayers be answered…