tuesday after the first week in Lent

Henri Nouwen's prayer for today:

Why, O Lord, is it so hard for me
to keep my heart directed toward you?
Why does my mind wander off in so many directions,
and why does my heart desire 
the things that lead me astray?

Let me sense your presence in the midst of my turmoil.
Take my tired body,
my confused mind,
and my restless soul into your arms
and give me rest, simple quiet rest.

I find this meditation incredibly timely for many reasons. The ambiguity of hunting and hoping for a job feels relentless today. Dare we hope for a new posting on the SBL website, only to fall victim to the bad economy or lack of experience one more time? Tyler is better at handling this than I am. School seems to be bearing down on me right now since it's the end of the quarter; I am behind in my readings, turning in a paper late today, while scrambling to get another one written by Thursday, while hosting looming mental sites of the hebrew final and closing philosophy paper for the next week. ack

And well, more germane to the prayer, it's Lent. I am working to be disciplined in my discipleship these 40 days. I can do anything for forty days, right? I mean, that's how I get through each quarter at school, by solemnly chanting, "You can do anything for ten weeks...what's ten weeks in the course of eternity...merely a blip on the map of time..." At least that's part of my internal mantra which helps me to remain calm and collected.  So back to my discipline, lest this wandering blog entry shows too much of my wandering mind during prayer.

I gave up fastfood for Lent. I know, I know, how cliche to surrender sweets, alcohol, or other caloric past-times that are not good for us in the first place. But I don't think you understand (I am admitting this honestly and sheepishly-ha), I love cheeseburgers. My family does not hesitate in joking about my "meat tooth." I love salty, crisp french fries on the paper wrapper beside my cheeseburger, and mostly, I love dipping all of it in a bright, swirly mound of sugary, processed ketchup. yum! (I could totally go for a #2 with a diet coke like no other right now.) But I need to turn aside from the tempting drive-through windows and navigate my car, (er, I mean, my heart and mind) to more wholesome food. So, I am naturally turning to Henri Nouwen for steering help. 

Today he told me to be still and listen, so that my prayer life isn't nearly as monolithic or one-sided as usual. hmmmm...interesting, he's assuming I have an active prayer life. (Step 1: start praying again.) Thus, step 2: start praying through stillness and prayer. 

huh, not really all that divine or euphoric...or is it? I'm going to try it. Just for ten minutes a day in the beginning (about the time it takes if there is a long line at In-N-Out). And I will report back to let you know if what he predicts actually comes true--I find myself more and more 'hungry' for the voice of God amidst the craziness of life right now. Here's hoping, oh crap, I mean praying!

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