Wednesday, October 21, 2009

B&W, W&O: Chapter 3 - Distraction & Prayer

Distracted Kitteh is Distracted. :)

'It seems odd that during much of our lives, most of the time, we seek distraction. Any sort of distraction seems to do, anything that takes us away from the present moment. The mind gravely distrusts the present moment and will do almost anything to get us away from it. This is all the more puzzling when we realize that the present moment is the only moment we have.'

Distractions are our attempt to find meaning outside of ourselves. This is true of *all* distractions, even the ones that seem to be harmless (collecting first editions, Hummel figurines, etc.) or 'good for us' (the author uses the examples of good music or a moving sermon). Distractions, while they seem to make us think that we're 'truly ourselves' when we're into them, are actually taking us *away* from our true selves (by taking us away from being present in the moment) and deluding us to this fact. Tricky buggers.

Archimandrite Webber says that even the drive to be 'totally free of distraction' can be a distraction. 'Distraction that we don't recognize as a distraction is still a distraction. Distraction that we attempt to reject is still distraction. However, distraction that we both recognize as distraction and accept, without any sort of reservation, is no longer a distraction.'

'If I am a monk and I stand in church day in and day out feeling resentful, though not quite sure why, then I am being distracted by my feelings. If I am a monk and I stand in the church, day in day out, next to a monk who always sings flat, and I am annoyed by that fact, then I am distracted. However, if I am that monk and I simply accept that the monk is beside me singing flat, that he is not going to stop singing flat, and that his singing is actually every bit as important as my own, then I am no longer distracted. I can enter into the silence even when surrounded by noise.'

Cutting out distractions doesn't work because we just replace them with other distractions. The idea is to accept the jackhammer working down the street, the guy in the pew singing off key, the crickets, the rock poking you in the back, the heat, the cold, the noise, the smell, etc. and acknowledge it, and not care.

When we're no longer distracted, the mind is quiet, and the heart (nous) can operate. It begins to recover, and we become ourselves, even for just a little while. In this space is where we can meet God. When we cease doing and *be*, we can meet God.

'In the world at large, there is a silence which is simply the lack of all noise. This is a negative silence, a silence waiting to be filled. However, in the spiritual life we discover another, much more valuable sort of silence, and that is the silence which is the voice of God. The two sorts of silence sound similar, but they are not the same. The silence sought by hesychasts is the voice of God. Within this silence we are bathed in the goodness and love of God.'
'Silence is the language of God. Everything else is a mistranslation.'

He moves on to 'intercession', saying, essentially, that in praying for others, we should simply say, 'Lord, remember ______' (persons name &/or situation). We should *not* tell God what to do. We should just ask that He remember them, that His Will be done in a situation.

The author says that in the Divine Liturgy the church engages all of the senses of the worshipers in order to help them get into the present moment. To not allow their minds to wander here there and the other place, but to concentrate on where they are. He also covers language used in church, and how (sometimes) it's not one that we understand. His point here is that we can use that, as well, to ground ourselves. That rather than focusing on the words, we can make ourselves 'more physically present' in our bodies by concentrating on the movements, and the rhythm of the words, even when we can't quite understand them all.

He also mentions that if you're sitting in church judging everyone, you've missed the point, and wasted all your time there.

The last section was Bible Reading. Mainly, how one should read the Bible daily, and that it must be understood in the *context* of the time at which it was written! Shock!

What I found most interesting in the last little section is that the Book of the Gospels is (according to the author) given more weight in the Orthodox church that the rest of the Bible. Not that the rest is not held in high regard, but that the Gospels are the 'main event', if you will.

And, to make up for the creepy picture a few posts ago, I bring you cuteness that has nothing to do with the post:


  1. LOL! I used to have that Army of Darkness one as my wallpaper on my computer at my former job. Everyone always e-mailed me any cat photos that they found. ^_^

  2. Oh, and those kittens remind me of the little stinker I'm fostering right now for my friend (her cat rescue organization doesn't adopt out black cats in October, due to the things bad people do to them for Halloween). Her name is Celina (although it was supposed to be spelled Selena). She's a polydactyl -- has extra toes -- and is always playing with and getting into everything! She's cute and very sweet, even if she is annoying. ^_^ And she likes A. He said he would adopt her if he weren't working so much. : P

  3. Whoa, I don't know if I've ever NOT been distracted!

    About intercession...I have to remind myself sometimes to pray for God's will to be done because I find myself asking God to do so and so in that situation. Hmmm.

    I think I can agree with the Orthodox church finding the Gospels the most important. As someone told me once the Good News IS Jesus Christ, not all the wrappings we sometimes put around the Gospel.

    Great stuff! Thanks for sharing! And cute cat pics. :)

  4. The pictures remind me of a short comic I wrote a few years ago, called Fuzzy Pink Kittens of Doom. Weird coincidence, I wrote that while I was tutoring a bunch of high school students, and the kittens in the comic messed w/people's heads and made them all distracted and confused! :D My theory on why high school students acts so crazy.

  5. Heather,

    Kittehs! I love cats! Of course, I am perverse and the 'Basement Cat' ones on ichc are my faves...

    Yeah, all the shelters around here put the kibosh on black cat adoptions until *way* after Halloween too. Too many sick people around.

  6. Susanne,

    I know!

    The thing about the Gospels makes a *ton* of sense, and I'd bet that many/most people give them more weight than the rest of the Bible. I'd just never had someone out and out *say* it before. :)

  7. Sanil,

    That sounds so cute!

    You're probably right. The kittens are trying to take over the universe. But their evil is so adorable!


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