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I have always thought that in case of an emergency evacuation, the first things I would grab would be my laptop and portable hard drive. So the other day the fire alarm went off while I was upstairs in my fourth-floor office, and what did I take with me down the stairs (heeding the warning not to use the elevator), and out the front door?
My cup of tea.
That was all. I carried with me a partially-drunk cup of tea. Which only goes to show... what? Failure of presence of mind in a crisis? Or that in the morning a cup of tea is more important to me than prized documents and photos? Or perhaps simply that I don't always keep in mind what is truly of worth?
What then do I want to take with me, not just when the fire alarm goes off, but throughout the day, every day? How do I carry—not just my cup of tea, or worries about work or health, or petty everyday distractions—but awareness of God?
One helpful practice can be a “walking prayer.” (This is not quite the same as “prayer walking,” which often indicates a form of intercessory prayer.) Here are some examples of this simple repetitive prayer:
The Jesus Prayer.
Quiet and simple repetition of the holy name of Jesus.
A psalm verse or other brief scripture passage that is personally meaningful for you.
In this way we can pray while taking out the garbage or washing the dishes or shopping for groceries. It may not guarantee that when the fire alarm sounds we will remember the laptop, but it can help us be mindful of what we always want to carry with us, what we know in our heart of hearts is most important to us: the presence of God.
(In case you were wondering, there was no fire, just a very burnt piece of toast.)
- Sister Rose Hoover, rc
See also "Contemplative Practices" for other ways to cultivate mindfulness.
To leave a comment, go to the Cenacle Journal blog, "Caught Up in God."
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Photo: “Teacup in Sunlight” by Rose Hoover, rc
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