February 27, 2012
You know, there are a variety of ways that we learn. Some of us are auditory learners… we retain information best when we “hear” it. Others of us are visual learners… yep, you guessed it… we get most of our info from seeing it. I am the later. If I see something or someone I remember it/them. (Not to be confused with photographic memory) I just don’t do “words” well. I can become thoroughly immersed in a novel and 5 minutes after completing it I can tell you the story but not be able to tell you the name of the main character. I can recognize faces of people from decades ago in some cases people who I may have only met on one or two occasions. Thankfully I am married to someone who does names really well! (But she doesn’t do faces!)
When I was in seminary I like the rest of my colleagues had to take biblical Greek. We had three books we used in that class. I have no idea to this day who wrote them or what the titles were but one was brown, one green and one red! It became a joke in our class because the professor would tell us to pull out a particular book by author and I would ask if it was the brown one, the green one… Eventually he would just say “ok everyone pull out your red book.” (Like we were in elementary school) I have thought on occasion that if theology were written in comic book version with lots of pictures I would have multiple PhD’s by now! But alas in the academic world visual learning is not especially appreciated.
That being said, I find visualizing things to be helpful to me at times. Let me tell you about a prayer devise I have used. It is somewhat personal and may sound silly to you, but it works for me. Let me begin by distinguishing the difference between meditation as described by various Eastern and New Age philosophies and meditation as Christian prayer. In the Eastern way of thinking the idea is to empty one’s mind of all things and focus on some sort of mantra (special unique word or phrase) that allows the chanter to relax and become one with… whatever. Those of you who used “natural childbirth” may have been taught a form of this, i.e., focal point… breath… maybe a word, or a babies name… Christian prayerful meditation on the other hand allows us to empty ourselves with the intention of being filled by the Spirit of God.
So, my visual meditation… I visualize myself in a giant bathtub… (Sorry about the horrifying thought that just came into your mind!) As I sit in the tub I am surrounded by all the stuff in my world. All the good stuff, bad stuff, mundane stuff, trite stuff, goofy stuff, sinful stuff, ordinary stuff, routine stuff, boring stuff, tedious stuff, stressful stuff… you get the idea. And I visualize all of those things going down the drain. And as they disappear they are replaced by warm, bubbly “Living Water”. The Water is flawless. It allows for me to relax and focus on nothing but its perfection. What amazes me is how quickly I am distracted and inclined to allow the water to become filled with the stuff mentioned above. Once again I visualize it going down the drain to be replaced again by the Living Water-Jesus Christ.
Obviously to some degree this is a metaphor for life… we are forever surrounded by the stuff of our existence and easily allow it to dominate who and what we are. We forget or are unaware like the woman at the well (see below) that perfect Living Water is available to us. I feel so bad for those who live their lives focusing on and dominated by the “stuff” and never find the peace giving, perfect, Living Water of Jesus Christ.
If you find yourself today surrounded and dominated by the “stuff”. Take a bath!
With much love and prayer for Living Water for you and those you care about.