I read a lot about You, about prayer, and about the spiritual life. I mark paragraphs with different symbols and underline phrases and passages that grab me to which I want to return. I oftentimes carry with me a phrase from a morning meditation and I even post particularly dear insights as frequent reminders to myself. Things like, “This day offers you another chance to love,” are pasted on the mirror in my bathroom. The seven guidelines of Anthony DeMello’s
“Sadhanna” are printed on a bookmark I use as are other insights on other bookmarks.
What occurs to me as I mark or revisit marked passages, or see signs on my mirror, or read messages on bookmarks is: in what manner do I actually process these things? What seemingly happens is that I read them once again, or even daily and maybe I think about them for a minute, and that’s that! For some reason, at one time, these items caught my attention as valuable and insightful – worthy of further, even daily, reflection and meditation. That may be the extent of my processing. But that doesn’t do them justice. Even to take one of them and meditate upon it for a longer period of time, or to pray over one, or to write a letter to You about one of them is not enough. It strikes me that the culmination of processing such insights is the interiorizing of them. When I actually take advantage of each opportunity to love that a day presents, or when I operate thoughtfully with Sadhanna in mind – then I know that I have processed what they offer – when they actually become part of my life, my thoughts, my belief system. On the surface there are the words. A little deeper and there’s the insight the words convey. Still deeper is the living of the insight from which the words originated in the first place.
To truly process the insights of important words both acceptance and internalization are necessary after initial recognition. This may be protracted over a long period of processing as the insight sinks in. But words are tiny little prisons that keep their meanings locked up against their escape to something deeper like meaning without words. It is at this point that the most serious processing begins: at our escape from simply what the words mean to something deeper that initiated them. The reminders of my markings, my signs, my bookmarks, etc., convey not just what their words say but an invitation to go beyond their words, to process that from which they came.