Let me explain my previous post. I wrote that little story some time ago as a piece of practice writing. Before writing, I set myself some parameters. The piece must:
*be exactly 1000 words long;
*Contain a discovery that leads to conflict;
*Mention 7 objects that all start with 'S' - sleeping bag, soap, sack, satin ribbon, stove, saucepan and soup;
*Have a question in every piece of dialogue;
*Mention every colour of the rainbow plus black and white, once and only once.
This story did not aim to be a great piece of literature; it did not even try to be a particularly good story. It was an exercise, which aimed to make me more aware of my own writing: to help me to be more controlled and precise in my use of words, more inventive with my vocabulary, more aware of structure and the limitations structure must impose on writing. As an exercise, it worked; it worked because other, more serious pieces I wrote after the exercise were much more soundly constructed. This exercise was something I could do in order to help me do something I couldn't do - namely write well for a sustained period of time.
Practicing, i.e. doing something attainable for the sake of achieving something unattainable, is what our spiritual life is about. Just as we sing the scales or quietly practice our putting in order to train our voices for arias or our wrists for the green, so we pray, meditate, attend worship, read holy literature, give alms, keep journals and a thousand other sacred things to train our selves for a life in the Spirit. That is not to say our spiritual practices don't have worth in their own right. Of course our prayer - to take one spiritual practice as an example - is effective, and we pray for the sake of prayer alone; but it is only disciplined, regular times of prayer, incorporated into our life over a long time - prayer as practice - which school us to lead to the life of prayer urged by Paul in Romans 12:12, Colossians 4:2, and elsewhere.
My meditation practice grows unsteadily onward. It does not become easier though it becomes more rewarding. I school myself in awareness and stillness for two reasons. Firstly because it is worthwhile in its own right. It is a benefit to the body and soul to be still and free from my usual inner taskmasters for a short spell each day. Secondly, and most importantly, it is practice; training for a whole life that I hope will one day be lived from a place of inner stillness and in awareness. I know my spiritual practice is working not so much by the amount of time I can sit for, but by the amount of stillness and awareness that seeps out into the rest of my life.