In the Zone

Friday, March 9, 2012 — Week of 2 Lent

Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, c. 394

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 953)

Psalms 95* & 69:1-23(24-30)31-38 (morning) 73 (evening)

Genesis 43:1-15

1 Corinthians 7:1-9

Mark 4:35-41 *for the Invitatory

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Athletes talk about being “in the zone.” I remember a period of about three weeks one summer when I got into the zone playing tennis. I could see the ball as it approached my competitor’s racket, I seemed to know where he would hit it, and I would begin to lean that direction. When the ball left his racket it seemed to do so in slower motion. I saw it so clearly — the spin, the direction, the speed. I moved almost without effort to where I would meet the ball. Though I might be running, it had a floating quality, it seemed. As the ball got close to me it seemed to slow down. I had plenty of time to think how and where I might want to hit it. Sometimes I didn’t think, I just let my body hit the ball. I could hit it as hard as I wanted. The ball would skim right over the net and go right where I had aimed, or not aimed — just let it go. I could place the ball near lines. And it was all so effortless. There was a lightness and bounce to everything, and a rush of delight with each shot. I made very few unforced errors, and those were usually when I got to “thinking about it” and tried to force something instead of just going with the ball. My tennis partner on the other side of the net was struggling, sweating, working his hardest and having little to show for it, and I was floating joyfully. I felt a little sheepish, I was playing so well so easily, and he was pretty miserable.

As I read the gospel lesson today, it struck me that Jesus was in the zone, asleep in the boat as the windstorm threatens to capsize them. The disciples awaken him, and he speaks peace to the storm. And there was calm.

That peaceful, centered Jesus-presence is always within us. There is the core part of us that is always “in the zone,” one with God and at peace. When I am experiencing chaos, when I feel threatened or anxious, when everything seems to be flying apart, there is within me that centered place of divine presence. The trick is, will I go there? Will I look at Jesus — the peace, love and compassion — or will I look at the chaos and threat? Or, as I look at the chaos and threat, will I look at it in the consciousness of being one with Christ? When I do that, things seem to slow down. They don’t seem so threatening. I am able to react, to respond more consciously, less anxiously. I can just go with it. Letting the circumstances be, and responding naturally, in the moment. Sometimes things just happen — they straighten out before my eyes. My fears don’t materialize; they evaporate. Or sometimes the thing I dreaded actually happens, and it’s not so bad. Or if it is truly bad, there is grace that comes forth from it.

In the middle of all of our storms, when we are threatened with capsizing and drowning, there is a pure presence of peace. Christ is with us. Christ is in us. Sometimes all it takes is for us to awaken to that presence.

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