I’ve had sunflowers on my mind this week, as someone gave me a beautiful bouquet of them when they heard that I had come down with shingles. As I rest and give my body space and time to heal, I am profoundly encouraged by their lovely witness. Like it or not, I’m in a fallow season, laid low by illness not by choice. And I don’t particularly like it. Being home sick is disheartening, as it means halting everything, feeling unproductive and useless. But these brilliant sunflowers are prodding me to see things differently, to choose another way of embracing this season of suspension, as uncomfortable to my ego self as it is.
Pondering all of this in the fog of sickness, I remembered a talk Jim Finley gave on walking meditation that speaks to all of this. Walking meditation is when you walk incredibly slowly, so slowly it’s hard not to fall over, for about twenty minutes. He is really funny about how much our ego doesn’t like it because, well, we aren’t accomplishing anything or winning or achieving. But then he reflects on what is happening when we risk walking meditation:
Everyone is rushing, rushing, rushing. So what do we do? We slow it way down. This is the fear of being left behind. This is the fear of being disenfranchised. This is the fear of not being able to keep up. This is the fear of those who splinter off and nobody notices because they can’t keep up with the momentum of it all. We slow it all down in our affinity with them, our kinship with them. We go slow enough to catch up with our self. And in a single step, you learn more about God and your self than in a thousand books. This is the kingdom of God that is consciousness itself…this is the mystery of life out of death. The cross is the axis of the world. Jesus was the one who walked as slow as the slowest person that they could discover that God was with them in their inabilities, all of it. This is the great Eucharistic celebration.
What we think this life is all about isn’t what Jesus tells us or shows us in his life and death. We get swept up in the desire for greatness, for success, even when we might just be getting by. Look at how our culture worships the rich and powerful. We are steeped in the cult of the celebrity and the illusion of military might, while far too many are being left behind and forgotten.
And where is Jesus? With the slowest of us, with the brokenhearted and the downtrodden. When we finally allow that good news, that heart wisdom to sink into our bones, we are set free to truly live. But it isn’t easy, which is why we need a community of love to share in re-membering Jesus’ invitation to see as God sees, to see sunflowers where others see weakness. How do we embrace and embody the countercultural message of Jesus in our own lives and in our world?