"In prayer there's no need for judgement or shame when our thoughts predictably start wandering down their usual rabbit holes."
I am certain that Fr. Rohr is speaking directly to me with this statement.
No matter how hard I try, my thoughts during prayer and meditation seem to be wandering aimlessly in a direction other than my intention. During prayer, often, I launch into a monologue which sounds something like this: Why bother, you can never stay focussed? Damn! Here I go again! This is stupid. I've been practicing meditation for years and I still can't stay focussed.
I am getting better at taking my own advice, though, as I often remind Yoga students to allow unwanted thoughts to drift away and to return attention to breath and mantra.
A bit further in his writing, Fr. Rohr states: "What matters is our desire - an event that is a gift of grace - to return to presence again and again and again."
I find some relief in this thought.
First, I am cultivating a growing desire to pray. This desire is growing from daily recitation of a preferred canned prayer to a desire for a friendly, honest, conversational relationship with the Higher Power. In this conversational interaction, I long for a deeper connection with those for whom, and with whom I pray. These include individuals, groups, political atmosphere, and environmental atmosphere, with the desire for an increase in my presence with Higher Power in all of these life experiences.
Second, is the recognition that this desire is the planted grace of the Higher Power. Here is the strange dilemma in that grace: it is the gift resulting in the desire. Yet, my personal effort is also necessary for the growing awareness of presence. Right? Please, tell me I'm right. I really want to take a little bit of credit for what is happening. (Hello ego)
Here's the mystery. Both grace and effort are required. Yet ego is my monumental trap that really screws with my mind. Oops! This sounds like the rabbit hole that I seem to enjoy so much.
Ok. Right now I'll practice acceptance of the fact that I enjoy time in the rabbit hole with my precious ego. I will also recognize that in this mysterious relationship between grace, authentic desire and ego there is growth. This growth is noticed in the more frequent observations of our relationships. Our connections are often more subtle, more intimate, more healing and more joyfilled. These observations are the evidence that each of us must be acting on our collective desires to grow up, together. This is really great! This could be the answer needed to change our social and political climate from division to unity.
So gratitude is now in order. I suggest that we "gather our thanks for our relationships together in a pile, layer upon layer of gratitude, and then joyfully fling that pile of thanks" into the nearest body of restful water. Let's watch that gratitude float on the gentle waves knowing that our sacred waters will absorb this gratitude and let it evaporate into the heavens. Then, when the heavens release our gratitude in the next rain or snow shower, we can stand and be thoroughly washed in gratitude.