Thursday, January 30, 2020

Nurturing Mantras

Montras or sayings that help us focus and maintain our identity fascinate me. The Jesus prayer was an early one, “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.” I have used that from time to time. The Jesus prayer has a long history in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. 

I became interested in the "spiritual method" "of prayer" called “hesychasm" when I would go on retreat at the New Mallory Monastery near Dubuque, Iowa, in my early days as a Hospital Chaplain.

.As one who lives with an unresolved identity, a term used by the psychotherapist at one of our chaplain conventions, I have others of my own choosing as well.

The one most frequent is John 14:27 King James Version (KJV)
27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

I began using this when I returned from a late night after being called to the hospital for an emergency or death. The repetition of this verse helped me get back to sleep. No longer a hospital chaplain I still use this verse to lower my blood pressure, manage stress, and go back to sleep at night. There is something about the beta waves in the brain get involved. And if the Vegas nerve connects the brain, heart, and gut there has to be a lot of good things happening, like managing inflammation at the same time.

There is also the teaching from Eastern Theology of the unitive nature, and a more conscious intimacy with the Holy Trinity. My brother has been reading a book where the formation process is called “divinization.” 

My bog on theophany would relate here as well.

I looked up the definition of mantras. 

“Meditation could have various purposes. Some people meditate to achieve inner peace, others – to accomplish higher focus, or for self-motivation. There are guided meditation techniques aimed at assisting the participant to sleep better, to lose weight, to quit drinking…

A mantra is supposed to help you clear your consciousness out of the noise, so you can make room for one idea you want to concentrate on. A mantra is an idea, a philosophy or a world overview, concentrated in a sentence, a phrase or even one word.
Repeating your mantra in your mind will immerse you completely in an idea and will bring you closer to your goal.”

My earliest mantra, although I didn’t know about mantras at the time was “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel. I began with Scripture when at the age 16 I preached my first sermon in a youth service with Morning Prayer and Trinity Episcopal Church, Muscatine, IA. This was the text for my first sermon from the Gospel for that day.. 

Amazing, a lot of things have been added to my life. I have been blessed. I have received gifts beyond my expectations. Thankfulness is in order.

More recently with the successful cancer surgery and recovery I have been saying these two Scripture lines. The one with “Your word is a lamp for my feet” I have used many times before. They both seem to have more relevance now in combination.

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 119;105. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light upon my path.

Romans 15 New International Version (NIV) was a discussion at the Bible Discussion on Saturday morning in early January. This as the Sunday Epistle. 

15 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”[a] For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement  (Scripture is the called one alongside us.) they provide we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement (as the called one alongside.) give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews[b] on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:

The long passage probably doesn’t qualify for a mantra. I will take a line from the passage.

“through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

What makes this special for me, and again it is the intimate and relational aspect, the word encouragement is from the Greek word parakaleo, again another blog title, meaning a called one alongside. Through Scripture the Holy Trinity is with us as, endurance, as an ongoing relationship giving hope. 

I’ll close with the mantra from my mystical experience while celebrating the Eucharist, “broken is not the last word.” The bread and wine nourish and heal our broken lives.


Marlin Whitmer, retired hospital chaplain
Now a community facilitator for mental health issues.


No comments:

Post a Comment