“Blessed are those servants whom the Master finds watching when he comes. Truly I say to you, that he will gird himself for service and have them recline at the table, and he will come and serve them.” (Luke 12:37)
Do you wish you felt blessed?
Do you long for a little more peace in your heart?
Do you yearn to sense God’s Presence and Provision in your life?
Even as the new pastor of The Center and a person who has been on a contemplative journey for two decades, I confess it can be easy to feel separated from God, anxious about my present or future, or think that I’m not as blessed as the next person. But over the years, I have discovered a key practice that has the power to awaken me out of the sleep of my self-centeredness and realign me with the Sacred Center.
And each Advent we hear about it – the blessed practice of “watchfulness.”
During the season of Advent, Christians often read parables where Jesus talks about “watching” for the “coming” of the Lord, since the word advent literally means “coming.” Although often interpreted as only remembering Christ’s first or second coming, Christians throughout the centuries intuited from these sayings timeless truth relevant for today. They understood Jesus to be talking contemplatively in these passages, suggesting that “watchfulness” is an interior practice that leads to peace of heart, trust in God’s provision, and a state of blessedness. For them, it was a foundational practice for the spiritual journey.
So how might we become more “watchful”?
Imagine that you have two inner orientations – like the two axes of the cross – a horizontal and a vertical. Your horizontal awareness is oriented to the outer events of ordinary life as well as to your inner reactions to these events. Alternatively, your vertical awareness is oriented to the Spirit and your Self that is grounded in God. These two axes intersect at your heart. So you are more than the events that happen to you or your reactions to these events. But it’s only as we return to our heart that we recall this truth and live from it.
So in your time of prayer and during your day, remember that you have these two inner orientations – horizontal and vertical. Keep these inner “cross-hairs” focused on your heart and on the present moment. These ancient Christians called this a “watch of the heart,” meaning both that they kept their attention on their actual heart region and practiced seeing from the place of heart.
What I’ve come to experience is that when I remember to practice this, it is really hard not to feel God’s presence, provision and blessing. It is really hard not to be grateful and humble. It is also really hard not to be compassionate on your self as well as others. And, like the servants in the parable that are “watchful,” we begin to be more awake to all the ways that the Divine comes to us in the events of our day – waking, dressing, eating, praying, working – blessing us and giving us everything we truly need for this present moment.
So as often as you remember, and especially when you awaken to being “stuck in your head,” simply pause your thinking and refocus on the place of your heart. Breathe. Then see your present situation from that place.
How does this simple practice change how you see things?
How you see yourself?
How you see others?
Here at The Center, we encourage one another to live from the Sacred Center so that we not only feel blessed but so we can bless others. One key is the practice of “watchfulness.” If you are looking for help as you practice, I hope you join us.
Light & Life,
Michael Sciretti, Jr.
Pastor, The Center for Christian Spirituality