When my sister and I were little, our mother would surprise us by serving an artichoke with our dinner. We found it magical to peel away the layers, scraping them with our teeth and savoring the small bit of goodness at the end of each leaf. But the prize came at the end when we arrived at the heart, and found the tender delicacy waiting to be relished.
No scraping of leaves, no work to be done. Simply taking bite by small bite to savor the goodness of the artichoke.
This past weekend, I found my head filled with layers of static. I’d been coming and going in every direction and clearly, needed to be more intentional about centering myself.
I began my prayer routine by curling up into child’s pose and trying to release the thoughts racing through my brain. Sadly, I could never seem to get there.
I tried turning over and settling into my breath. The static in my head was almost palpable. I couldn’t wade through all the checklists and events and notifications to get at the heart of it–my connection with God.
I remembered an exercise I learned in my spiritual guidance program at Shalem–the facilitator had us focus on our minds then quickly release and focus on our hearts. Something about “thinking” with my heart typically moves me away from the chatter of the monkey mind and into connection with my spirit.
As I tried to release, the image of an artichoke came to me. I remembered my childhood and peeling away leaves one by one. That memory transitioned into practice, and I began peeling away layer by layer each of the items that was distracting me from the Creator.
You see, even in those things that become our day-to-day, we get a small taste of God but our focus typically becomes the checklists, events, and notifications. We aren’t really getting at the heart of our relationship with God in the busyness of go, go, going.
As I continued to peel off each distraction one by one, layer by layer, I could feel the static dissipate. I could feel my breath deepen. I could feel my heart center.
It has been awhile since I’ve bought an artichoke, steamed it, then savored it. I am thinking I might have just come across a lovely, and delicious, new prayer practice.