Well, I have been quite pleased with myself for faithfully praying Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours the past months – and staying awake. Maybe it's because I pray the Liturgy of the Hours from my phone using the Laudate App and electronics really do keep us awake? Or maybe it's just - cough, cough – middle age? Whatever the grace, I was doing so well that my spiritual director suggested I add the daily Mass readings to my morning prayer time, and that was a nice thought - a little time to meditate on the scriptures before starting the day.
Maybe I shouldn't have been quite so pleased with myself and my success. After all, Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." I was feeling a little proud, kind of full of myself. Should have known better and remembered - it's all a gift, not me at all, whether I am awake or asleep, it's a gift from God. But I forgot and this week in my exuberance I added in a little something extra in the morning instead of waiting til later in the day. I read the verse of Jesus washing the feet of the disciple, meditating on it and praying for the grace of humble servitude.
I didn't realize I was in LaLa Land, not even when I started thinking it would be kind of gross for hands that were just washing feet to be in that pickle juice reaching for pickles and that Jesus MUST have washed his hands before he reached into the jar. But as I continued my prayer time, I couldn't remember any hand washing in the scripture verse. I became a bit befuddled about the pickles and sanitation before finally coming to my senses with The Grand Revelation: There was no jar of pickles at the Last Supper!
It took that Grand Revelation for me to realize that my mind had made it all up. Why? I don't know. Just a random thought that my imagination took and elaborated on, and I followed down that bunny trail of imagining for quite a bit, trying to figure out just when Jesus washed His hands.Or maybe I fell asleep and was having a pickle dream that integrated with the verse I had just read. The "why" doesn't really matter.
What matters is what we do about distractions. We must pay no attention to them and not get too upset with ourselves. When we realize we have succumbed, the saints say we should "recollect ourselves." We turn away from the distracting thoughts and refocus on the point of mediation, on the scripture verse. St. Theresa of Avila said she always had to have a book when she prayed during a particularly distracting time in her life. Now I understand why!
As for me, I still can't get that pickle jar out of my mind, and it seems that whenever I picture the Last Supper there will now ALWAYS be a jar of pickles in the hand of Our Lord as He stands up from washing His disciples' feet. I just hope that by the time Holy Thursday comes around this pickle-distraction will have ended. I don't want to feel something is missing if the priest doesn't open up a jar of Kosher Dills after the last foot is washed. Sigh….
We will just keep moving along, one little step at a time. Even when the path is strewn with pickles.