Thursday, March 25, 2010

put a rock in your mouth!

Fun with spiritual disciplines:

“Put a rock in your mouth!”

My retreat at St. Meinrads has had some interesting twists and turns. I am trying to deeply engage stillness, silence, and solitude amongst other things. In doing this I wanted to share an interesting practice I have experimented with that comes from one of the desert fathers [Monks from the 3rd-6th centuries]

While practicing silence keep a stone in your mouth to remind you of your vow. In fact keep two stones on you at all times.

One is a smooth small stone that is easy to keep in your mouth. Think of this smooth stone as the type that David used to slay goliath. If your heart and mind are focused on God and his goodness, this is the stone to keep in your mouth as a reminder of how His presence is smooth and strong and can give you the strength to slay the Goliath’s of your life.

The second stone is for when your heart wanders towards evil. This is when you take the other stone and put it into your mouth. It needs to be larger than the first and rough and porous. It represents the discomfort of leaving Gods presence. It is also a reminder of how your heart and mind have not yet been smoothed over by the presence of the Holy Spirit. This stone humbles us, and it hurts. It makes you wish that it had remained a long time under the rushing waters of a stream and gotten smooth from the consistent flow of the waters. Get it? To be drowning in God’s presence and to have the rushing waters of His word and spirit makes us smooth inside.

And it works…trust me.

But a few notes:

1. Stone number 1 needs to not be so small you might swallow it. I nearly did this. Also, don’t sleep with it; even though the monk I read about did this for 3 years I just know this would be a ridiculous way to die…or…just bizarre trying to explain to an EMT.

2. Stone number 2 needs to be abrasive. It reminds us of our abrasive thoughts and how they become abrasive and abusive words in our mouths. And it needs to be big enough to really get our attention and be annoying to work around. You should really, really, really want to spit it out. As such it is a great motivator to reconnect with Gods peace instead of our rage.



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