THE SPIRIT LEADS
US ONWARD, VIA ZOOM
By Lindsay Boyer
When I was invited to
write an article about Zoom fatigue, I set out to interview some of
the many who have been attending Centering Prayer groups on Zoom, one
of whom asked me this wonderful question: “Is it cheating if I do ALL
my Centering Prayer in online groups?”
My interviews suggest that
the main story is not Zoom fatigue but an overwhelming sense of
gratitude for the new technologies that make it possible for us to
pray together in the amazing multitude of Zoom groups that have sprung
up. While some of us are longing to return to our in-person groups,
others are saying, “Please don't ever end this online group!” and "I
hope things never go back.”
Zoom fatigue is a term
that has been created to describe the exhaustion that some feel from
attending too many online meetings during the pandemic era. It can be
very demanding to follow a conversation when we can’t read body
language in our usual ways and are interrupted by blips and delays.
Latency issues change the rhythms of how we talk back and forth. Add
to that the weirdness of seeing our own faces as we speak and the need
to master the ever-changing controls on our various devices—there is a
lot to negotiate! But do the factors that create Zoom fatigue apply to
contemplative groups? We are not involved in crosstalk. We are not
struggling to read each other's body language in the way we might be
if we were in a business meeting. We spend much of our time on mute
and some of us turn our cameras off, especially during the meditation.
Sometimes we have our eyes closed while others are speaking or even
while we ourselves speak. For much of our time together we allow
ourselves to go within rather than struggling to make ourselves heard
or to take in information. For those of us who experience Zoom fatigue
in other areas of our lives, our contemplative Zoom encounters may be
an antidote rather than part of the problem.
Meditation Chapel now has
over 100 facilitators, over 140 groups, and continues to attract new
participants. Busy people can use time zone differences to squeeze in
a group early in the morning, late in the evening, or even in the
middle of the night. Quite a few people join online groups every day
and some do virtually all their daily Centering Prayer sessions there
rather than alone, an option previously available to almost no one.
People love not having to drive at night or travel at all. They love
seeing each other's cats, dogs, partners, babies, decor, and window
views. While some may have quibbles about the details of group format,
for the most part these represent the same kinds of differing
preferences that participants also have regarding in-person groups: do
we enter on mute, or start with a little chat? How much sharing do we
do, as opposed to spending most of our time together in silence?
At the beginning of the
pandemic I met with Pamela Begeman, on staff with Contemplative
Outreach, Ltd. and on the steering committee of Meditation Chapel, to
brainstorm together about how to help Centering Prayer groups on Zoom.
Recently we checked in again to exchange notes on where the events of
the last eight months have taken the Centering Prayer community and
where the Spirit might be leading us next. Pamela expressed her
excitement aboutthe way the movement into online groups has led us
"beyond mythic membership consciousness.” On Meditation Chapel, there
is no longer a sense that “I go to my church and meet with my prayer
group.” We’re in an environment where we don’t get to pick who our
group is, we just show up, and “that has interesting effect on
consciousness, the fruits of which will show up down the road.”
Sometimes we don’t even know what part of the globe our fellow group
members are from. As we join from different time zones we exist almost
beyond time. There is something very egalitarian about our images in
their little boxes of equal size and random order. While we may lose
something by not knowing each other in familiar and localized ways, we
gain something in our sense of ourselves and each other as equal
partners in a global community of prayer. The seemingly random
assortment of people who come together for prayer prevent us from
over-identifying with the group and underline that we have been
brought together by divine providence.
Pamela and I identified
what we see as emerging trends. While online quiet days and shorter
retreats have become more commonplace, there is a hunger for longer
online retreats. Some communities are experimenting with five to eight
day retreats in which participants are not on Zoom all day long but
spend some time in silence in their homes, punctuated by times of
coming together on Zoom for talks and practice.
Now that many people have
more opportunities for practice and greater access to groups, their
committed contemplative practice is taking them deeper, and many of
them are hungry for increased spiritual sharing to help them process
their experience and insights, yet they aren't always looking to do
that within the Centering Prayer groups themselves. One group has
developed a pilot program of offering group spiritual direction to
some of its members. What other opportunities might online groups
offer their participants to help them bond together and deepen their
sense of online community, all the while protecting the sacred space
of contemplative prayer time?
Outreach chapters have new discernment issues to explore. The whole
idea of a “local” chapter is becoming obsolete. What does local mean
in this new context? What do we put in our “local” newsletters when we
have access to international events but not enough time and space to
publicize all of them? It's time to rethink everything, which can be
both exciting and bewildering. Perhaps chapters that once were local
will rearrange themselves around themes that call specifically to them
and the competencies of their memberships rather than their geography.
It's all being reordered, and our contemplative practices can help
open our hearts and minds to the extraordinary possibilities that lie
before us. Many local chapters are in discernment about whether to go
beyond the one hundred person threshold of a regular Zoom account:
“Okay, I can kind of wrap my head around one hundred people, but am I
ready to be the facilitator of an event that might reach five
While contemplative groups
don't have large financial resources to promote the practices that are
so dear to them, events and technologies have suddenly given them new
power and reach. Contemplative Outreach service teams are seeing that
their offerings can appeal to vast new audiences. The Centering Prayer
Introductory Team recently reached more than 400 people with an
introductory workshop, while the 12-Step Outreach team had more than
800 registered for a weekend retreat. Small groups may sometimes even
be nervous about how many people their events attract, and wonder if
they need to set cut-off points.
Rather than being fatigued
by Zoom, we can be energized by the new ways our contemplative
practices equip us to approach this unique situation. While the
pandemic has created many hardships, losses, and challenges, our odd
and wonderful new online communities have helped us nurture spiritual
resources that we can offer to our anxious and disrupted world. Our
practices allow us to cultivate an openness to the movement of the
Spirit that enables us to follow the twists and turns of this
adventure we are on. As Pamela observed, “You start to see how the
mind has constraints you didn't even know it had and you're being
asked to blow through all of them all at once.”
Let’s use our beloved
contemplative practices to break down our own barriers and resistances
to what is suddenly and astonishingly possible. The Spirit flows forth
like water that will go wherever there’s a channel open for it. It has
taken us to surprising places and it is not done with us yet. May we
continue to follow its exciting, creative, and holy movement.
MARY WAS THE
At the incarnation of
Christ, (the Annunciation) Luke 1 vs 29, the evangelist introduces
Mary as one who ponders. “She was much perplexed by his words and
pondered what sort of greeting this may be.” Bob Lewis explores just
why Mary is the perfect contemplative.
At the incarnation of
Christ, (the Annunciation) Luke 1 vs 29, the evangelist introduces
Mary as one who ponders. “She was much perplexed by his words and
pondered what sort of greeting this may be.” After the birth of Jesus
and at the visit of the shepherds who informed Mary and Joseph of what
they had been told, Luke again, 2 vs 19, informs us that Mary
“treasured these words and pondered them in her heart.” Luke again, 2
vs 51, reminds us of the contemplative posture of Mary, when after
locating the child Jesus lost in the temple but hard at work teaching,
Jesus’ mother “treasured all these things in her heart.”
We note other
opportunities to get insights into this amazing woman. We hear how a
pregnant Mary, leaving self behind as contemplatives are hoping to be
able to do, has concern only for her cousin, Elizabeth. We know the
story. She set out on a difficult journey that presented many risks
and visited her cousin. The gospel indicates the depth of her
spirituality when Mary delivers what we now refer to as the Magnificat.
This is a song of praise of the goodness and greatness of God.
This marks Mary as a contemplative of the highest order. She is one
who lives in a high state of consciousness. The ideal contemplative is
one who lives in a constant state of praise and thanks whilst still
present in the moment. This is Mary. This part of the gospel glibly
states, “Mary remained with her about three months and then returned
home.” I say, glibly, as Mary is now more heavily pregnant and the
journey home is no less arduous. I cannot emphasize enough the aspect
of ‘leaving self behind’ portrayed here.
Mary’s sensitivity to and
empathy for the hosts at the marriage feast at Cana underline her
natural high state of spirituality. Maybe Mary, in responding to what
she observes and discerns, is the first to say, and not for the first
time, “Not my will, but your will be done.” In mothering her Divine
and fully human son, did she instill this mode of thinking and acting
in him who would one day, in his agony in the garden as his passion
and death was imminent, remember his mother’s lessons about, “Only the
Father’s will. Only the Father’s will. Only the Father’s will. ………”?
It is fair to ask, “Why
was Mary chosen as the Mother of God?”
I believe it is very clear
from Mary’s obvious easy humility and actions, that she was a woman
who was completely emptied of attachments to anything that was not ‘of
God’. Mary had overcome her egoic self. She was the most spiritually
detached person in history. As a result, Mary was the perfect
receptacle in which Christ could become incarnate.
We – males and females –
are called to be Mothers of God.
How? John’s gospel is very
clear. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and
the Word was God.” (John 1 vs 1). In the same chapter and vs 14 John
boldly announces, “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” Mary was
the mother who physically brought forth the Word (Christ) as real
flesh and blood and nurtured that child and brought him to maturity.
Our challenge, too, is to
continually bring forth Christness (the Word). We can do this, for
example, by living a life that is a continued response in loving and
discerning obedience to the will of the Father. To do so is being, in
an ongoing way, a mother of God. This, almost certainly, makes
seriously embracing the contemplative path something that is
Hail, Mary, Mother of God
and my Mother of Faith, you, the woman who was so emptied that God
chose you as the perfect receptacle in which to incarnate Christ,
please guide my spiritual life in such a way that I progressively
imitate you in becoming more and more emptied.
— Taken from Contemplative Light, 2020
“Centering Prayer is an
anticipation of the Eternal Now! You try to do away with everything
except God! You can’t do away with God even if you wanted to. You
place yourself in a face to face situation; you are living on earth
the life that the saints live in heaven, but they don’t have the
problem of distractions. It is the prayer of heaven, the closest you
are going to come in this world to God!”
— Fr. William Meninger
By Rita Weick
Each time it’s the same:
the men file into the chapel, sign in, say hello to Robert and I and
find a seat in the circle. Anywhere from 4 to 12 show up for the twice
a month Sunday Centering Prayer circle. For months we’ve been reading
and discussing Ray Leonardini’s book Finding God Within and
this time we have something different – multiple copies of the
December 2019 edition of “Contemplative Outreach News.” Inside is an
article entitled, “Finding Wonders in the Desert” written by the
members of the Graceville Correctional Facility Centering Prayer
After praying, we dig into
the article, going around the circle reading one sentence at a time,
hearing the words from multiple voices. We read:
We lack many of the usual
distractions: no internet or social m edia, no clubs or events, no
bills or obligations. For us, this simplicity of life becomes lovely.
And then we stop, for a
word in the last paragraph read aloud has stuck in someone’s craw:
lovely. I jot their words (with their permission) as fast as I can
for the interchange is lively and intense.
“Prison experience is NOT
lovely. Not my reality. We learn in th e midst of it. I’m afraid that
it WILL become lovely. What’s that mean when I leave here? Will I want
to come back?”
“There’s truth to the
simplicity of being here. It’s an opportu nity to focus on ourselves.
We can redefine lovely.”
“I created a lot of
suffering in life. Being in this moment, I can turn any situation into
lovely and rewarding.”
And the open and deep
discussion continues, line by line, paragraph by paragraph. And before
we know it, the hour has passed. Some sigh at the realization and all
express deep gratitude for the opportunity to experience the deep
silence together. As they file out thanking us, Robert and I with
heartfelt honesty tell them how thankful WE are for this time with
By Betty Florendo
When I decided to come
home for good after 42 years living abroad, I knew I wanted to give
back to the community – but how? I felt like a stranger in my own
country and was totally lost as to where to begin looking for
places/communities to serve. As I set foot at NAIA in 2009, I heard
myself saying “Here I am Lord, I have come to do Your will." A long
period of discernment followed and with the enlightenment of the Holy
Spirit and inspiration derived from my long practice of centering
prayer, I found myself volunteering at L’Arche Punla (Ang Arko ng
Pilipinas Inc.). L’Arche Punla is the Philippine affiliate of L’Arche
International founded in 1964 by Jean Vanier. We welcome people with
mental disabilities and those who want to share their lives with them.
I have been working at Ang Arko ng Pilipinas for close to 10 years
now. I started as a volunteer, became a member of the board and now I
am the Chair. What I thought initially as a part-time job has now
become almost a full-time job. But it is very rewarding. God's special
children teach me the virtues of humility and charity from their
simplicity and innocence, love and generosity. Nothing matches the
feeling of being told "Ate, I prayed to Kuya Hesus for you" as I
report for work. I believe that when the handicap pray, God listens.
It is in L'Arche Punla
where God has put me in touch with people I would never have met had
it not been with my involvement with the mentally handicapped. I met
people who knew common friends and the circle of my friends grew wider
and networking began. I no longer felt like a stranger in my own
country. It became easier for me to contact donors willing to support
our community - donors who understood and believed in the spirit and
values of Ang Arko ng Pilipinas.
I had gone on "Sabbatical"
from my centering prayer group when I volunteered at L'Arche Punla. I
was invited to rejoin Contemplative Outreach, Phil. on Recommitment
Day in 2014.Not long after I was chosen member of the Circle of
Service. I had no idea what I was getting into but I was convinced
events happen for a reason. It all happened in a dizzying pace but so
be it. Before I knew it, I was elected Head of Retreats and Workshops.
It was a hard act to follow the outgoing head who worked tirelessly
for 17 years on the job. Then I realized that when God calls, no point
saying "No" or "Just a minute, Lord." I accepted the position hands
down. "God does not call the equipped. He equips those He calls." I am
still a work in progress.
Organizing retreats and
workshops is challenging, but the results and rewards are enormous.
Inviting men and women to come away and spend a weekend of solitude,
silence and prayer with the Lord and seeing their response has
inspired me tremendously. A big bonus assisting at every retreat is I
get to sit, listen, and learn centering prayer and Lectio Divina with
new insight and perspective everytime. I love spending time in the
prayer room after a hard day's work in silent conversation with my
The parable of Martha and
Mary had a great influence on me growing up. It still does as I
continue in the service of the Lord. I see Martha as the ultimate
example of "action in contemplation." I see her as I go about
soliciting for more substantial or more regular funding to L'Arche
Punla. I see Mary as the ultimate example of "contemplation in
action." I see her sitting at the feet of Jesus listening. . .
listening . . . praying. When I find myself concerned and worried,
like Mary, I try to be steadfast in my prayer and trust that the Lord
is in control. Without the practice of centering prayer, my day is not
complete. My daily sits give me the energy and strength to consent to
do the work God lays out for me at the dawn of everyday. I thank Him
for giving me the chance to be of service to Him.
A LIFE IN GOD'S
By Chuchi de Guzman-Daroy
The introduction to
Centering Prayer in my spiritual journey came at a time when I most
needed a way, a practice to express and share the great love God made
manifest in many events in my life.
Learning to keep my two
periods of quietly sitting in His Presence and listening to Him call
nourished the ground of my soul to bear even more fruit.
Before I went into
semi-retirement, I was able to keep my centering prayer and lectio
divina appointments with God 98% of the time, inspite of the busyness
of my life.
Now going on with two
years of less work and having more quiet time for prayer, my days
revolve around these communions with God. These two prayer times are
simple gifts from the Lord that I cherish each day for they have
brought a lot of graces to handle the disappointments, setbacks, and
temptations of each day; as well as the joys, the consolations and
revelations that come with them. Being faithful to these prayers for
the past 21 years may seem to be a routine and sometimes I feel they
are too simple to answer my complex needs and trials, but they never
fail to give the inches to my ascent in the spiritual journey.
For this I praise and
thank God for these gifts of prayer and the perseverance in little
acts of faith each day. As I look back through the years, I realize
that the slow but faithful steady pace of my prayer life brought much
fruit in healing, forgiveness and love.
Since the time my eldest
daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, she has not experienced the
debilitating symptoms of the disease at all but has managed to lead an
active, normal life, even giving life to a happy, healthy daughter. A
series of positive helps I believe came through God’s hand in
strengthening us in prayer, deepening our faith, and bringing about
In prayer and in life I
praise and glorify God for His goodness and mercy.
By Marite D. Briñas
Fr. Thomas Keating once
said that people do not need so many devotions and prayers if they
practice centering prayer. Not to say that we drop them including the
holy Mass altogether, because in fact centering prayer enables us to
appreciate them better. We see our spiritual practices from a more
informed and encompassing perspective.
I find this so true.
Centering prayer has been my go-to prayer especially during those
times when I feel lost or alone. I have been blessed to learn about
centering prayer and Lectio Divina since 2005, when I was still single
and not having too many responsibilities and concerns. I just remained
faithful to the prayer.
During my pregnancy I
found new insights on the prayer as well as my relationship with God.
I made the videos of Contemplative Outreach, many of them about Fr.
Keating and his teachings, especially the Spiritual Journey tapes, my
companion as I went thru a delicate pregnancy. As I see it, I was
praying with my baby while he was inside my womb, listening and being
soothed by my own peacefulness as I maintained a posture of stillness
Now that our little one is
a toddler, she sometimes joins me in the prayer, sitting on my lap for
5-10 minutes silent and still. That short moment of silence brings a
special kind of bonding between the two of us. As I get so busy during
the day attending to both my online business and my responsibilities
as a housemaker, I wish I could spend more time , quality time to him.
One of the blessings of
the Spirit is the ability to be more aware and conscious of my child’s
needs, both physical and emotional. I pray that I will grow in this
gift. While motherhood is meaningful and fulfilling, there is still
much room for my personal growth as a mother and wife.
Thanks to centering prayer
and Lectio Divina, my two favorite spiritual practices, I am secure
that I am on the right road in living God’s will in my ordinary daily
By Loy Dichoso
What does it mean to be a
contemplative husband, father, and grandfather to my growing family in
the midst of this pandemic? It means everything if you wish to have a
peaceful, and happy relationship with your wife, children and extended
family. A contemplative disposition helps you be constantly aware of
God as Someone who is present within you, with everyone else, and in
all of reality.
This awareness leads to
self-knowledge. You realize that you need God for guidance, help, and
sustenance in every aspect of your life. You seek His Presence in your
relationship with your spouse, your children, even with your extended
family. His Presence brings peace, unity and harmony, aided by your
practice of tolerance, forgiveness and unconditional love.
You realize that God is at
the center of your life, disposing you to measure matters and events,
big and small, based on His standards. You realize the importance of
doing things based on His rules, not on human considerations.
Consenting to His presence and action in your life helps you change
your attitudes and outlook. Your values change from being self-centered
to one that is more giving and thoughtful towards others. A simple but
concrete example is your desire to help in household chores, for
instance, instead of indulging in extended hours of watching TV,
Netflix or social media.
Loving others becomes
paramount in your life. Where there is love, there is God. With a
loving disposition now entrenched deep in your heart, you bring peace,
understanding and serenity to yourself, your family, your community
and society. This is a small taste of heaven on earth, a participation
in God’s Kingdom here in this world.
By Len Hizon
Here I am, asked to write
an article on prayer when I’ve been experiencing dryness in my prayer
life. I can’t seem to pray, I can’t seem to concentrate or focus on
what I consider the most important part of my life. If I were to be
honest with myself, I can say sometimes I don’t pray because I don’t
feel like it or somehow I didn’t think God was listening, or that
praying wouldn’t do any good any way so why show up…?
There are also too many
distractions, too much noise, anxiety and worry… Often I cannot hear
myself above the din, much less listen to what God wants of me or to
the movement of the Spirit. I like to put the blame on outside noise -
people, work, errands, not enough time… But the sad part is– all this
noise, it’s inside me, it follows me everywhere I go.
Then doubts set in, the
feeling of not being good enough, the guilt, the shame - all major
roadblocks to prayer. It’s a vicious cycle.
A dear friend mentioned to
me the other day that she makes it a practice to pray for the first
person she sees when she wakes up in the morning.
What an amazing thing to
do so I tried doing this and of course after Day 1, I forgot to do it
on Day 2. On Day 3, I tried again, then forgot, and forgot, then tried
again and again and again.
Then it suddenly hit me -
to try to pray IS to pray. God does not need us to focus or
concentrate, He just wants us to be there, to show up, to trust that
He has our back, to be present to His presence.
And for me, today, this is
perfect. This is prayer.
Silence is a very powerful
force, true silence. Not the negative silence of ‘I’m not going to
speak to her ever again’, or the negative silence of brushing under
the carpet just in case people get upset, or deceiving the world about
it because it is too dangerous to let out. Not that negative silence
of repression or deception, but the true silence in which we
experience an expansion of our minds and opening of our hearts, and we
experience a new kind of communication and communion with other
people. This is the test of silence, that it brings us to peace with
ourselves and with others. And in this work of silence, our true self
— Laurence Freeman
ABOUT THE SACRED
By Leslee Terpay
Q: “How do I choose my sacred word for Centering Prayer”
Thank you for asking for
clarification on the first Centering Payer method guideline: “Choose a
sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s
presence and action within.”
The sacred word is a
symbol that expresses our intention to consent to God’s presence and
action within. It is sacred not because of its inherent meaning but
because of the meaning we give it as the expression of our intention
to consent. In other words, the sacred word is sacred not because of
its content but because of its intent. Our intention during the
Centering Prayer is to be with and surrender to God whatever that
The sacred word is chosen
during a brief prayer to the Holy Spirit, a word of one or two
syllables as recommended in The Cloud of Unknowing written in
the fourteenth century. Examples of the sacred word are: God,
Jesus, Abba, Father, Mother, Mary, Amen, Mercy, Yes, Love, Listen,
Peace, Let Go, Silence, Stillness, Faith, Trust. You can even
choose a word from another language or a lyrical one such as Kyrie.
Please notice if the word you receive causes an emotional reaction
within you– whether negative or positive. If it does, you might want
to pray for another word, as an emotional reaction during Centering
Prayer is considered a thought and will take you out of the prayer.
There isn’t such thing as
a right word, a wrong word, a better word or a more sacred word. The
sacred word is only a symbol that expresses your intention to consent.
Any one or two syllable word of love will do. Many people choose their
name for God as theirs.
Having chosen a sacred
word, do not change it during the period of Centering Prayer because
that would be engaging in thoughts. I invite you to commit to the
sacred word that you were gifted from the Holy Spirit for at least 30
days. You don’t have to shop around for a better word. For instance,
one day thinking before praying, “I really need peace so I’m going to
use the word Peace for my sacred word today.” Since Centering
Payer is based on your relationship with God, this would be trying to
manipulate God. God as our Divine Physician heals and gifts us as He
sees fit, it is up to us to let go and let God during this prayer.
Spending time with God in this way, is accepting his anointing and
love. Jesus says in Matthew 10:30 that even all the hairs on our head
are counted. If God knows each one of our hairs, He must know us more
than we know ourselves and what we need.
The longer you have the
same sacred word the more you don’t have to think about using it , it
will say itself. Long time Centering Prayer-ers will tell you they
have had their scared word for years, perhaps never changing it.
That all being said, there
are two other means of returning our attention to God during Centering
Prayer the sacred breath and the inward sacred glance. In terms of the
breath, this is a noticing not an effort to follow the breath. More
artistic or visual folks may be drawn to the inward glance, a noticing
of God within.
I hope this helps clarify
any questions you have about choosing a sacred word. Let the Spirit
guide your choice. If not, please let me know. Here is a little more
on the sacred word from Fr. Thomas’s book Open Mind, Open Heart.
You may want to read this book in its totality to learn more about the
“The sacred word is a
way of renewing your intention to open yourself to God and to accept
Him as He is. While this does not prevent anyone from praying in other
forms at other times, the period of Centering Prayer is not the time
to pray specifically for others. By consenting to God, you are
implicitly praying for everyone past, present and future. You are
embracing the whole of creation. You are accepting all reality,
beginning with God and with that part of your own reality of which you
may not be generally aware, namely, the spiritual level of your
All of Fr. Thomas’s
Spiritual Journey videos are available on the Contemplative Outreach
YouTube channel. Part 1 of his teaching on the Method of Centering
Prayer is available here:
Enjoy and celebrate the
journey to Love. Peace be with you.
— from December 2020 E-News
SIT ONE HOUR
WITH THE LORD
By Germelina L.
Fully aware He was going to be crucified and die, Jesus first shares a
meal with His friends, and then invites them to pray and “watch” with
“Watch… sit in quiet contemplation, preparing both mind and soul.”
In the past, I would do my Holy Hour with the Lord equipped with my
Bible, a missal for the litanies, a novena or two, and definitely my
rosary. And when there is time left – meditate.
Now, I have reversed the process. I do my contemplation – and then I
recite my prayers. I do my “watch” – by being in quiet contemplation.
Instead of reciting my praises, needs, and wants – now I prefer to
just sit and listen to Him. It is no longer my agenda of what I need
to say to Him, rather, what He needs to say to me. To sit and be with
Definitely, God’s words and thoughts are in the Bible and in
devotional prayers. Of course our Lord always wants to hear from us.
Always. A loving Father who is always attentive to our concerns.
But in Matthew 26:38, He asks to just to be with Him. To “watch” with
Him. This, to me, is the essence of centering prayer.
A sage once wrote: a smart man knows all the answers. A brilliant man
knows how to ask the right questions. A wise man knows how to listen.
How does one listen and “hear” the voice of God and know the desires
of His Heart? Surely not by our physical eyes and ears – but with our
spiritual heart and soul. This, I do in centering prayer.
I close my eyes, take my breaths, and rest in Him. Beyond my words,
beyond my thoughts.
In Matthew’s narrative, the disciples failed and fell asleep at the
Lord’s request to watch with Him. I, too, have failed. But when I have
stayed and watched with Him, I open my heart, open my mind, set aside
ego concerns – and lose myself in God’s infinite love. At times the
Lord gives me answered prayers, sometimes new instructions, but more
often it is just being with Him – where no words/thoughts are needed –
attuned to His Will and resting in His Love.
By Fr. Carl Arico
“At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed
for a couple of minutes.” (CP Guideline number 4)
The creation of space in our lives is so important. Sometimes even in
Centering Prayer we rush to get finished. We need to allow time to be
nourished by the prayer. Here we pause and allow the process to sink
deeper. It opens us up to the gift of the present moment.
By learning to leave space in our prayer we begin to make space in
daily life so that the breath of the Spirit can enrich us. All these
gifts which we offer in the prayer splash over into daily life –
continuing all that we consented to and teaching us how to do it. We
live out the command to, “love the Lord our God with our whole mind,
heart and being and love our neighbor as ourselves” (Luke 10:27).
OUR DOORWAY TO
By Joan Chittister
The great spiritual problem of the day is being “like fish out of
water.” A life without spiritual regularity drifts through time with
little to really hang onto when life most needs an anchor. Instead, we
often get caught up in someone else’s agenda most of
lives. We put the cell aside for work and its never-ending deadlines.
We forget the cell when we need it most and make play a poor
substitute for thought and prayer. We think that we can run our legs
off doing, going, finding, socializing, and still stay stolid and
serene in the midst of the pressure of it all. And then we find
ourselves staring at the ceiling one night and thinking to ourselves,
“There must be more to life than this.”
The fact is that human beings need spiritual rest as well as physical
rest. Psychologists deal daily with the effects on clients of stress
and pressure, of frenzied work and frantic schedules, of open-plan
offices and crammed buses, of swarming trains, planes, and
automobiles. They see the weary and the worried, the angry and the
anxious, and all of them say the same thing: I need time for myself. I
need to be able to think for a while. I just need someplace quiet. We
find ourselves struggling between having no job, losing a job, trying
to find a job, and being smothered by the job we have. Our bills pile
up and our energy goes down just trying to meet them.
It is precisely then, when life is at its most frantic, most
frightening, that we each need a place to go to, a place that wraps us
around in silence and calm. No matter who we are or what we do, we
need someplace we have put aside, a small, simple place we have
designated as our doorway to peace, where we can sink into ourselves
and find the God who awaits us there.
— from In God’s Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics by Joan
“Creator Spirit, breathe into our wounded
hearts and minds Your healing Gifts of
forgiveness, understanding, and wisdom. Amen.”
By Kimberly Holman
I remember the year Father Thomas Keating came to speak at Naropa
University. I, quite by accident, happened to meet him as he was
coming down a long dark hallway. Here was this tall, commanding figure
dressed in the white robes of a Trappist monk. Yet what really touched
me was a deeper presence that quite honestly left me dumbstruck.
The encounter was brief but the awe remains. Having heard the news of
his passing, this poem stirred inside my heart.
You will never really be gone
Because you live in our hearts forever.
remember that time
When I met you in the hall.
Your commanding presence
Left me speechless,
Which is after all the place where you
Encouraged us to dwell - in silence.
Your talk that night
Left quite an impression.
I still remember how jokingly you called God
”Since God is all things and no thing,”
”I have to ask,
In that moment, my heart sang.
I felt liberated from the dogma
Of my own conditioned mind.
I realized we can ask these questions.
God doesn’t care.
For God is love
Amidst the doldrums of fear,
And God is a comfort
Drying the aching flow of tears,
And God is who I saw that night
Shining brightly in your eyes so clear.
Thank you, Father Thomas,
For all that you taught us.
Thank you as well for all that you gave.
I’m confident I’ll see walking the halls again some day,
For nothing can hold you,
Not even the grave.
Kimberly Holman is a contemplative writer and mystic with an M.A.
in Religious Studies from Naropa University. She is a student of A
Course in Miracles, as well as a Certified Mindfulness Meditation
Instructor. She is passionate about helping people recognize the
already perfected state of being within themselves.