by William Shannon
WE ALL NEED TO LET GO, if only for the short period of our prayer, and do nothing. Most of us are not very good at "doing nothing." "Wasting time" is doing nothing significant, but doing nothing significant, however understood, is still something we do. We find it difficult simply to stop doing; yet we need to let it happen in our lives.
Some of the things we let go of during prayer we may have to pick up again after our prayer. But if our prayer is consistent, we will pick them up with greater strength and inner calm, because in our prayer we will have moved toward a certain degree of personal unity. Once we have found our own center, it is easier to deal with the things that are on the periphery.
The things we have to pick up again and deal with may be duties at work and at home, familial responsibilities and societal ones. These we cannot evade, though at times they may impose heavy burdens on us. A life spent in doing can be very destructive of human persons, if they never come to know the personal identity of the One who does all these things. Well-doing by itself can never bring well-being. We have to learn to recognize God's Presence in these tasks that our life-situation places upon us: God's Presence in the land of the living.
Letting go of everything for a brief time each day, and simply being during that time will help us to grasp an essential principle of well-being, namely, that, no matter how much there is that we must do, it is not our doing, but our being that enables us to identify who we are.
From Silence on Fire: The Prayer of Awareness, by William H. Shannon (New York: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1991).