Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kime and Worship

This morning I was reading a prayer from the book, Puritan Prayers. I have found these prayers to be quite deep, and they require much from me as I read them. I often make them first person and use them to start my own conversations with God. Here is the one I read today:


Glorious God,
It is the flame of my life to worship You
And heavenly pleasure to approach You.
Give me power by Your Spirit to help me worship now,
That I may forget the world, be brought unto the fullness of life,
And be refreshed, comforted, and blessed.
Give me Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God,
That I may be drawn near with Your love.
Let me live wholly to my Savior,
Free from distractions and hindrances.
I am pardoned through Jesus’ blood –
Give me a new sense of it
That I may worship You in spirit and truth.

The words of this prayer remind me of the Japanese idea of kime. As in most martial arts terms, this one short word conveys a broad thought, attitude, and experience that requires a long description. Kime means focus. More than that, it is single-minded focus, where nothing else exists to you except that which you are focusing on. It may be a board, a technique, a kata, or an opponent.

My first experience with kime came as a surprise to me. I don’t think I had ever even heard the term or the concept at that point. Seven or eight months after I started training in karate I was testing for 7th kyu. Throughout this test is was as if my world was slowly contracting, first down to the gym, then down to the dojo floor, and finally at the end down to a circle on the floor around myself and sensei. He was holding a board for me to break and I had never done that before. Sensei spoke quietly, coaching and encouraging me. In that moment, there was nothing else in the world but his voice, my knee, and that board. And then I heard the board break. It was an incredible experience. Since then kime has come to me many times. Once I realized what it was I began to look for it, to cultivate it, to bring my mind to that state on purpose rather than just waiting for it to happen.

As I read the prayer on worship, I realized that kime is what is required for true worship; to forget everything else so that the only thing that exists is God. I have been in worship services that swept me away, that called me out of everything else and focused all of me on God alone. These are wonderful experiences, and now that I know what worship looks like and feels like, I can look for it, cultivate it, and bring my mind to that state on purpose, rather than just waiting for the right combination of emotions and music to take me there. It becomes something I can practice, not something that I just wait to happen to me.

Rebecca A Givens, 11/2006
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