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April 16th, 2014

BRIAN — DAY 43: Clarity


Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

If I am being honest with myself — which is probably a good thing to be during Lent — there have been a good many days when I have simply cashed in on my commitment. Yes, my desire was to complete the simple task of sitting in silent meditation for 10-15 minutes each day. How could I fail unless I spoke or simply did not put in the time?

The fact of the matter, however, is that I sometimes plopped down on my bed, closed my eyes and waited for my 10 minutes to pass, making little to no effort to quiet my mind, focus on my breathing or recharge for the remainder of my day.

It is not that I feel guilty about this; that really is not the point. But the days in which I stayed engaged with my goal and actually attempted to simply be without distraction or noise for a few minutes remind me why I undertook this small challenge in the first place.

A number of benefits have shown their faces on these particular days, but I would like to focus on one: clarity.

When I have made a genuine effort to pause and slow down, it is not as though thoughts stop entering my head. Rather, they come in a far more orderly way, as opposed to their usual modus operandi of attacking me from every possible direction.

It reminds me of something a teacher used to tell me: “If a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind, what does an empty desk mean?”

The implication, of course, was that an empty desk meant an empty mind.

But for me, the opposite of cluttered is not empty; it is organized. And though I may never achieve the Zen-like heights of a completely open and free mind, this Lent has demonstrated that an at-peace mind in which my thoughts and ideas take their proper place is not a bad second.

The Author : Brian Harper
Brian Harper is a communications specialist for the Midwest Jesuits. He has lived in Peru, South Africa, and Italy, and his writing has been featured in America magazine, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and various other print and online publications. You can find his work at www.brianharper.net.
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