Signposts: Daily Devotions

Friday, February 13

Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
—Luke 12:27

In the superb book Spiritual Exercises, Joining Body and Spirit in Prayer, author Nancy Roth writes that when the Buddha was asked, "What do you and your disciples practice?"he replied, "We sit, we walk, and we eat." When the questioner continued, "But, sir, everyone sits, walks, and eats," he responded, " When we sit, we know we are sitting. When we walk, we know we are walking. When we eat, we know we are eating."

Roth describes this state of living in the present wishlessness, and it reminds me of Jesus' words about the lilies of the field, how they neither toil nor spin. I think of how much I toil and spin, and hope to do something about that.

There are many ways to practice this state of being wishless or mindful. One way to begin is to vow to do only one thing at a time, an increasingly difficult goal in this multi-tasking society. Last year for Lent, I "gave up"using a cell phone in my car, and you would not believe the difference it made (or maybe you would).

Other ways to practice this kind of mindfulness/wishlessness are

  • walking without any mechanical devices (try it!)
  • sitting perfectly still for five full minutes (perhaps with a lighted candle) without reading, watching television or answering the telephone
  • eating a meal alone without reading anything and without music or television.

These simple yet amazingly difficult exercises are the key to living with wishlessness.

God of all things, great and small, give us the discipline to become more present to the wonders of life. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.