Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Flow

Thursday, October 6, 2011 -- Week of Proper 22, Year One
William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale, Translators of the Bible, 1536, 1568

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 986)
Psalms 131, 132, [133] (morning)      //     134, 135 (evening)
2 Kings 23:4-25      
1 Corinthians 12:1-11      
Matthew 9:18-26

I still my soul and make it quiet,
like a child upon its mother's breast; *
   my soul is quieted within me.

O Israel, wait upon God, *
   from this time forth forevermore.
(Psalm 131:3-4)

 I really enjoy our monthly gathering of the Fayetteville Ministerial Association.  It is a good time of friendship and sharing among colleagues.  After we visit a bit and share announcements about upcoming events in our congregations, we usually have a two-part program.  Each month we invite someone from a non-profit or faith-based program to talk about their work and about how our congregations might benefit or become involved.  (This month's presentation was from Youth Bridge.)  And the second half of the program is some form of faith sharing among the members.  Each month one person tells something about themselves or their own story based on an agreed-upon format that changes from year to year.

One year each of us shared about our own personal practice of prayer or meditation.  Another year we each summarized the fundamentals of our personal faith.  One year we told stories about people who have been mentors for us, those who gave us gifts of faith.  Another year we told stories of the visitation of "dark angels" -- times we went through something very hard or even tragic, and what gifts came out of that experience.  Sharing these stories has deepened our friendships and appreciation of one another.

This year our topic is "flow."  Tell about times when you've gotten into the flow -- gratifying moments -- when time stands still and you are doing something meaningful, doing exactly what you want to do, and you never want it to end.  Here are some of the psychological components of these times of "gratification" or "flow."
   * The task is challenging and requires skill
   * We concentrate
   * There are clear goals
   * We get immediate feedback
   * We have deep, effortless involvement
   * There is a sense of control
   * Our sense of self vanishes
   * Time stops

My friend and parishioner Judith Neal told us a great story.  (I'll summarize it poorly.  I hope it's accurate.)  She was past deadline for finishing the first draft manuscript for a book she was commissioned to write.  It had taken her well over a year to get it about half done.  Now she had a month to finish, and it was a deadline that couldn't be extended. 

Judi shared her task and anxiety with a friend, who told her about his strategy for getting a lot of writing done quickly, or for doing a difficult task under demanding circumstances.  First thing in the morning, he spent an hour in meditation.  Then he spent an hour practicing spiritual dance.  Then he napped for an hour.  When he rose again, he spent the rest of the day writing, and found he had remarkable reserves of energy and focus.

As the last week of her deadline arrived, Judi adapted his strategy for her own use.  Each morning she meditated (for 20 minutes).  Her form of exercise was playing the guitar -- after her meditation, she played her guitar for a while.  Then she went to her writing (she did the napping later).  She found that the writing flowed.  The words came out of her with ease and inspiration.  When the week was over, minutes before her midnight deadline, she submitted her completed manuscript via email.  Fully half of her book had been written during that one creative week of flow. 

The next morning her editor got back to her.  He had stayed up all night reading what she had submitted.  She expected a complicated re-write assignment.  "I wouldn't change a word of it," he said.  And the book was published.  It's available from bookstores or online --  "Edgewalkers:  People and Organizations That Take Risks, Build Bridges, and Break New Ground."  Judi now works at the University of Arkansas as  the director of the Tyson Center for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace, and her book studies real life business leaders who have walked along the edge -- incorporating faith values and spiritual qualities into their work and their businesses. 

I know I find my own work flows more gracefully when I am faithful to my disciplines of prayer and health.  The opening psalm for today's Daily Office offers an invitation to enter into that flow, the energy and presence of God, here and now.

I still my soul and make it quiet,
like a child upon its mother's breast; *
   my soul is quieted within me.

O Israel, wait upon God, *
   from this time forth forevermore.
(Psalm 131:3-4)


Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Click the following link:
Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at -- Click for online Daily Office
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location -- --  Click for Divine Hours

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

O America, wait upon Obama,
from this time forth forevermore.

O America, bring gifts and taxes
to the thrown of our dear savior.

O America, wait for the blessed
day when Obama will bless our economy.

O America, still your soul and make it quiet as your savior Barrack gives yet another press conference and fund raiser.

At 1:40 PM, Blogger chicagolandadventures said...

This was such a blessing to read today. Thank you!

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous janet said...

Oh how my heart is lightened to know the church leaders are working together in this way, especially in looking together at some of the social problems.


At 8:05 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Not sure what the silly poem was about, but thanks for the comments.

It is heartening to have such a good group of religious leaders meeting together. We've become good friends. We share resources and opportunities, as well as some encouragement. I saw Rabbi Adler there -- this evening begins Yom Kippur -- the Jewish High Holy Days. We might want to keep our Jewish neighbors in our prayers this weekend.


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