During her (our) Troubles, I remember sitting at one end of our sofa and holding a book, or a sheet of paper with an assignment on it, and patting the open space beside me. I remember that space as on my left, my strong hand, the side my heart is on. I remember inviting A to sit down beside me — to come close where I knew she’d draw strength, or calmness, or both — and she would,
yet she would vibrate, sometimes visibly, and repeat, “I can’t! I can’t do it, Mama!” To which I would say, “Let’s just sit here. Just sit by me. We don’t have to do anything; let’s just sit.” “I can’t!”
and she would pop up and across the room, a jack-in-the-box on feet.
I remember doing this many many many times.
Always hoping that, for a scrap of time, A could touch calm nearby that which tied her in anxious knots; always hoping for a drop of experience to point to: someday, someday, this can happen.
Before I left Austin, and after I knew Mom’s diagnosis, I met with my spiritual director. We discussed my seismic shifts… Mom’s loosely imminent death, my move away from my long-established social nest, or web, I like both images for it….
She noted: devotional practices are meant for the support of the one practicing. Like Sabbath is for persons, not persons for the Sabbath! I laughed (Mark 2:27). Pretty much, and more that any given practice is good as long as it is good, and when it’s not so much, just change it to something now-good.
I have been remembering this wisdom lately.
Lately when I sit in contemplation, my brain buzzes — maybe even more than it did when I first tried silence. And, or, my body is restless in my gut, my feet, my heart.
I’ve been working with it, apologizing to God, trying not to apologize but to agree that this is what’s happening, trying at times to tease out what’s pushing the restlessness and maybe peek at it out of the corner of my eye.
I’ve cut my silent time back, dropped the prose-reading moment, testing shifts to see what I can sustain, what I can do in fullness in order to remind myself that fullness is.
I hear: Sit with me. Just sit here, for a little bit. I’m here; we can sit for a while.
For a scrap of time, I can taste it.