by Claire Berger

The Year of Magical Thinking chronicles an agnostic’s grief after the death of a husband and ailing of a daughter. Joan Didion, author of The Year of Magical Thinking, upon first hearing that her daughter was in brain surgery told herself: “Read, learn, work it up, go to the literature. Information is control.” 

While Didion might not use the following word to describe her actions, she was meditating (I should note she was Episcopalian before drifting toward agnosticism). Generally, meditating is fixed attention for a desired internal change. Some people do breathing exercises, some do yoga, others meditate on information—all done for a desired spiritual or internal change. And people who practice these disciplines believe the breathing or the thinking, to some degree or another, help them flourish. So how does the meditation of an agnostic relate to the type meditation found in Scripture?

Some of the similarities come with a term theologians call, “common grace.” Whatever happiness people derive from yoga or oils or a cup of tea or a trip down a wikipedia wormhole comes from the maker of those things—Jesus Christ. He has designed the world with certain systems and practices to help all who live here. Therefore some find general meditation to lower blood pressure or increase awareness because Jesus made it that way. But you will keep being thirsty after “meditation tea” unless you drink from the source of those gifts. 

Psalm 1 tells us about a different type of meditation. It tells us about true flourishing; it tells us about meditating on the law of God. In Jesus we meet the one who spoke the law and the one of whom all of the law speaks. He lived in perfect obedience to the law when we could not—he has done this for us. 

And because he obeys the law perfectly, our internal state can change. We can be so mentally caught up in him that we delight in him. Come hear more about meditating this Sunday.