After finding God in the valley, he's been steady climbing hilltops and often shares the experience with others on his journey towards a better life.
Some of us, guinea pigs really, have been journeying with him experimenting with stillness through meditation - a concept quite radical in this noisy world though certainly not new.
As we lurch toward serenity, many of us are discovering a few of the fruitful gifts of this ancient practice: lowered heart rates; better concentration; patience, community; humility before a God of our understanding. More shall be revealed, it is rumored.
Calvin led us down a path recently towards the ocean to ponder the tide.
"Listen to the sound of the water, as it meets the shore," the carmel cords compelled.
We listened. We felt the hot sand and churning water beneath our toes. We breathed. We tried to "hear the sound of God listening to us," as a fellow traveler once coined.
Stomachs growled. Legs shifted. Throats cleared. Nasal passages wheezed. (Sounds of life, in all their glory, are not quiet, dainty things. Internal stillness, Janet! Inhale. Exhale.)
I tried to let go of the image running across my mind's movie screen of my teenage children laughing at me trying to sit still in a roomful of strangers. And. Being. Quiet.
A vision: a collage of friends and foe alike, who know me to be a chatty Cathy, a nervous Nellie, the princess of perpetual motion, laughing at me. I gently let that image roll by, as instructed. There's a lot of reference to water. I tried not to think of my bladder's business, having just slammed a 16-oz cup of decaf tea.
"Perhaps you're standing on the beach at high tide,' Calvin coos, 'or maybe it's low tide. Just be still and take in the moment."
Ha! Tell that to the ping-pong Olympians inside my head!!
When life seems like a series of twisted roads and painful rest stops with no end in sight, it feels like God is testing us. No, that's not honest. It feels like God has vacated the premises. Hasta luego, sucker! A good soulful friend might use this time to remind us that the hard times pass; the good times will come again. I need to be that good friend to myself and to others. Tides go out, tides come in.
Mindfulness meditation is not an easy exercise for those with chatty minds and troubled hearts. But, as many of us are discovering, it is essential for our spiritual and emotional development.
Call it Ground Zero for monkey minds. Call it meditation. Call it prayer. Call it communal listening. It probably doesn't matter what you call it, as long as you open your heart and mind to the idea that, with a little faith and a lot of practice, it is possible to experience stillness amidst the raging sea.
It also doesn't hurt to hear this lesson through carmel-covered vocal cords.