Our inner lives are just as harried. We think about ‘to do’ lists, appointments, grocery lists, and what needs to get done next.
We worry about paying bills or finding the right birthday present for a loved one. Our brain is constantly churning, bringing up thoughts, worries, and ideas to the forefront of our consciousness.
Do you feel Christian Meditation is beneficial to students? ...
Teachers from various Townsville Diocese schools
Indeed, modern life is no different from the preceding centuries in one important aspect: like our ancestors, we too feel that something is missing. We search for meaning and purpose. We yearn to understand who we are, why we are here, and where we are going. Instead of having more answers, our present-day technology and instant access to information seem to present us with more questions.
Instead of feeling whole and complete, we feel rudderless and fragmented, pulled in opposite directions. As John Main noted, the pressures of modern-day life have forced us to
“compartmentalise our lives too rigidly into, for example, school, work, home, family, entertainment, church, and so on. As a result, we lose a sense of our own personal wholeness.”
Word into Silence, p80
Without a sense of groundedness or personal wholeness, we feel empty. We sense that we are not truly alive.
Again John Main observed, many people
“suffer the sense that they are not fully authentic as human beings. A major reason for this is that there are so many living their life secondhand without a real openness to the uniqueness of the gift given to them: their own life.”
Word Made Flesh, p38
Sooner or later, each of us discovers that we cannot live “by bread alone” (Dt 8:3, Mt 4:4). Nor do we live by success alone, fame alone, money alone, or sex alone.
As psychologist James Fowler asserts,
“We require meaning. We need purpose and priorities; we must have some grasp on the big picture...We look for something to love that loves us, something to value that gives us value, something to honour and respect that has the power to sustain our being.”
Stages of Faith, p4-5
For people of faith, that ‘something’ is God. That is why St Augustine once wrote, “Our hearts are restless, O God, until they rest in Thee.”
We long to touch Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. Realising there is a whole level of meaning beyond the visible temporal universe, we seek to still our thoughts and restless distractions.
Like the Psalmist, our hearts cry out:
“As a deer longs for streams of water,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My being thirsts for God, the living God,
When can I go and see the face of God?”
We hope to find our meaning and peace in God through prayer.
Jesus once promised his disciples, “Behold, I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). It was John Main’s belief that God is always with us, both surrounding us and within us. What we need to do to find God is to become aware of his presence and love. We can only reach this awareness through perseverance in prayer, the persistent practice of meditation.