by Sean Beckwith
Psalm 46:10-11 (NRSV)
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
I love a good “dad joke”, so forgive me when I say that during this Lenten season of FASTing, I’m trying to go SLOW. Hasn’t this global pandemic slowed the world down? And yet, somehow, I’m still always busy with Zoom meetings and virtual activities, ever occupied with work… and just trying to stay sane! I find that a new season in the church calendar is an invitation to re-assess how my relationship with God is going.
This Lent, I am trying to be more regular about practicing spiritual disciplines that create touchpoints throughout my week that remind me to step back from the fray and listen for that still, quiet voice of God. I am carving out time to spend in quiet, meditative time with God. I have been rediscovering a practice I have not done in many years, Tai chi, as a form of prayerful bodywork that connects me with my own racial identity. As my LYDN group worked last fall to recognize our own racial identities and past experiences of race and racism, I was inspired to reclaim this practice.
Growing up in an overwhelmingly white city, as a half white and half Chinese kid, race was something I rarely talked about. But when I went to college and later moved to California, I was around a far greater Asian population. I started becoming more comfortable reclaiming the overlooked, unnoticed, even suppressed, half of my heritage. Celebrating shared Asian culture, from festivals to cuisine, with the friends I met brought back memories from my own family experiences. One of my favorite memories of my grandfather is watching him practice Tai chi on the patio on sunny mornings.
Practicing Tai chi forces you to go slow. While it may only take the average practitioner several minutes to complete the forms, they say a master has such body control that they spend hours – ever so slowly – moving through the forms. I bridge this Eastern practice with the quiet meditation that asks God to come and breathe within me. To help me to be still and know the presence of God.
God of eternity, grant me pause.
Still my mind and quiet my heart,
and whisper your presence to me.