Meditation has always struck me as an inefficient use of valuable time. My distinctly Protestant understanding of prayer allowed me to come before God, unencumbered by intercessors or ritualized language, and speedily drop off a collection of charitable thoughts and concerns. Before Georgetown, I saw meditation as an undisciplined foray into the realm of the spiritual.

My disinterest in meditation was only surpassed by my antipathy for solitude. While sometimes antisocial, I generally need to be around people as much as possible.

Thus, I surprised even myself when, upon the recommendation of a man whom I very much admire, I began to try to schedule a time in my week for solitude and meditation. Between classes and work, there didn’t seem to be a readily accessible time.

Fortunately, working nights at Town Dance boutique has left me without any sleep schedule to speak of, so, when returning from these shifts, I have been using the walk or bike ride from Ninth Street to meditate.

My first effort on this front was rather fruitless. As it turns out, weekend nights on U Street — even as late as 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. — are not a place for meditation. I won’t forget some of the more interesting people I saw milling about at that late hour, but I certainly did not find that they drew me closer to God.

The next night, I decided to take a more secluded route back to Georgetown and to be very intentional in my efforts to meditate. Residential streets in the darkest hours of the morning provide the most secluded experience I have had since moving to Washington, D.C. I found myself genuinely able to shut out the world and to focus on the spiritual work of meditation.

I began, as is my custom, with a very deliberate prayer. I offered some words of praise and then began to ask for guidance on various questions I have about my life. I spilled out my concerns and even asked for a few miracles. Having worked through everything on my mind I looked at the street sign and realized that 27 blocks still stood between me and the front gates of Georgetown.

So I decided to cast a wider net. I thought about people whom I knew only vaguely but were in need of prayer and healing. I asked for blessings on friends with whom I hadn’t spoken in years. Increasingly out of ideas, I decided to ask God to influence some of the larger problems in the world and for vague things like peace.

Finally out of steam, and with my remaining blocks nearer a score than a dozen, I decided to listen. I didn’t listen in the sense that I waited for a physical voice to speak to me, but I listened for information, for an impulse. While I didn’t suddenly see solutions to all of my problems, I did start to have clarity about many of them. For the rest of my walk, I felt supported by God and surrendered to Him.

I realized the impermanence of most of my worries and the importance of the people who make me flee solitude. I thought of my great-grandfather’s favorite hymn “In the Garden” and its portrayal of a walking conversation with God. In this busy, loud, gray city, there is no finer garden than the streets at night. By the time I arrived at campus, I felt refreshed. My meditation had not been a vague floating, but an involved work. The relaxation I felt was more like a post-workout endorphin high than a post-spa complacency.

The semester is already hitting us hard, and I think most people on the Hilltop would benefit from a spiritual unburdening. Such unburdening will require work, but is well worth the raw surrender of self and outlay of time that it requires.

Georgetown students generally go about everything with intentionality and focus, and meditation should be no different. I encourage everyone to seek a time of solitude for focused personal communion with God. Refreshed and refocused through this commitment to spiritual and emotional hygiene, we can more actively thrive.

I will continue my evening walks with God, if only so that, when the daylight comes, I can more actively serve as his hands when the city wakes up and ends my solitude.

rosenbergerTim Rosenberger is a junior in the College. The Church and Statesman appears every other Tuesday.

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