Monday, November 16, 2020

Collecting Tools for Your Spiritual Tool Box -- Grafting

I have a close friend who has the most amazing apple tree in their yard.  It has 5 different branches each one producing a different kind of apple.  A miracle of modern horticulture.  Each branch was grafted onto a common root stock.  To look at it without apples, one would never know it was five different trees in one. I was meditating about this tree a few days ago and a Bible passage in John's Gospel came to mind.

I am the vine, you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing.  John 15:5 (EXB)

In turbulent times staying grounded in the Source of our Being keeps us away from the unproductive aspects of our very human "lizard brain."  The lizard brain thrives on looking around corners, gazing down scary dark alleys, always on the lookout for the Tyrannosaurus Rex that is waiting to gulp us down.  A major source of stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, and depression comes from a lizard brain gone to complete seed sprouting every possible unrealized danger as a reality lurking under our beds or in our closets. This is what I think of when the John's gospel writer says, "Without me they can do nothing."

The amazing thing is we do not have to be held captive by our primitive reactive brain.  In fact, if we let it occupy our thinking, we are essentially allowing ourselves to be cut off and as John graphically discusses in the expanded context of this verse, the net result of that is to throw ourselves into the fire of despair -- a condition many are experiencing in this time of pandemic.

So, what is a tool for our tool box that we can reach for to get us out of the flames licking at our soul when it feels like all is lost and sadness rattles our bones?  As the rest of this series points out, the respite, regenerative, healing space for our soul is to spend time reminding, training, connecting ourselves to sink into our spiritual center that feeds life, light, and hope. Here is one suggestion:

Grafting Meditation:

1. Begin by putting on some soft restorative music.  The genre you choose is probably rooted in your soul and may vary by personality and life experience.  I find New Age to most reliably connect with my spirit, though there are many strains that don't fit for me.  I've found meditative flute music most reliable such as Paul Adam's "Meditative Flute for Dreaming Clouds" album.  I would advise against vocal pieces as they tend to overly engage your mental side more than your spiritual side.

2. Focus on your breathing, such as the Heart Meditation engages.

3. Then there are a couple of paths you can travel to in your mind, and because we are solidly rooted, grounded, and grafted to God, it does not matter which way you go.  I've found I bounce back and forth like a rich conversation between myself and my Maker.

One place to start is imagining God is a strong powerful tree in the center of a garden you visit frequently. The "Tree of Life" perhaps?  It is so large, so many branches each sheltering God's creation.  It is ancient and weathered into tough resilient wisdom born of standing through thousands of years of seasons and weathered storms.  You are one of the branches.  You were grafted to this Tree of Life the moment you were born.  It has fed you.  Nourished you.  Protected you.  It has broken the brunt of every storm. Your connection to this tree leaves you feeling safe and free to grow the fruit of your life through which others you love are fed and nourished.  Bask in this, gaining peace and strength as much as you're needing.

Second place you can go with this is to imagine yourself as the tree.  God has chosen you as the ideal root stock to which God has chosen to graft Godself.  God has picked you as precious and beloved wanting to be a strong branch to your overall growth and development.  God is sharing fruit with you and gathering in the strength of rain and breeze and sunshine that is flowing to the center of your being.  You feel stronger and lighter and joyful as all that energy is coming in and being stored in your inmost roots. Continue absorbing this energy as long as you need.  The storehouse from which you are drawing is limitless.

4. When you at a close of your meditation time, don't forget to give thanks for the way God keeps your toolbox near you.  It is there to sustain you through all times and is as near as simply pulling up a chair.



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