All things must have a start, even times of quiet contemplation. After several days of hard cold rain on the Northern California coast ones thinking can become gray as the weather. In my slow indoor ‚Äúcabin fever‚Äù pace I can‚Äôt help thinking over my long past with its Lenten enhanced sorrowful sin episodes. They hit me like machine gun bullets, so many incidents of shame and sorrow, bad fleshy decisions. Like David in the scriptures ‚ÄúLord, forgive the sins of youth‚Äù and God chastises those He loves. Some of those decisions earlier on and some of late follow me like brooding shadows ready to spring. I ask forgiveness of everything I can think of and don‚Äôt want to think of as I reassemble my faith in my prayer place, a chair in my bedroom, my prayer closet. My centering prayer time brings me to a new hopeful attention away from the world‚Äôs stalking fears.
With some attention to posture in a sitting and comfortable position, I begin to think and focus. Overwhelming thoughts today. I begin to slow them down employing my prayer word. They are back, thoughts crashing ahead. I even begin to feel sorry for myself ‚Äì all this pain of living and having lived. Oh, no, I won‚Äôt go there to the poor me‚Äôs. The Lord has already dealt with me on this subject, and I know it is not the way to go. Time has gone by tuned into these mundane thoughts and my mind battles; sometimes they are so sentimental ‚Äì Bah! Stop! I need to surrender my thinking again. Good, here comes my prayer word again. Tonight even my body gave a jerk like a short spasm and now I am using my prayer word and comfortably sending all the boats ashore even the one I think that is measuring what is happening. I give this up too.
I am in a place beyond confusion now; perhaps it is the hallway to the Throne of God. It is a floating, still feeling. I notice the difference that turmoil is not here, and I seem to draw in a deeper breath of air within my lungs. I know now that this is because I am in the process of thinking again, so I follow instructions and touch it all with my prayer word again. Perhaps I can get back to a place of stillness like in the moment before but I give this up too.
At the Throne, I notice a place of light within myself. It is just like the light of life that is within those at the Throne. They are happy with this, and I am happy with this ‚Äì this light, the same within us, this one light of the spirit.
I remember the instructions to press on. If it is important enough I can and will remember it later. In the meantime I employ my prayer word again, and after I don‚Äôt recall how much time, the prayer time is over. I begin to breathe more deeply because I am thinking in the flesh again. I say the Lord‚Äôs Prayer and thank God for a restoration only He could perform.
I feel comforted, cheerful and confident that my Father‚Äôs fruits are always with Him. He bestows them freely.
All things have a start, even times of quiet contemplation. The fruits are more lasting all the time. I can love again wonderfully and miraculously having been allowed an experience of quiet communion.
Thomas J. Pawloski