‚ÄúBe still and know that I am God‚Äù (Psalms 46:10). It was a verse I had long been familiar with, but what in the world did it mean? I had no idea how to be still! My mind was always in one of two places ‚Äì regretting the past, or worrying and fretting about the future. The concept of being still and simply consenting to God‚Äôs presence and action within me was a foreign one.
Then, several years ago, a one day workshop on Centering Prayer was being offered. I had heard of it, and was intrigued by it. I knew that it was similar to meditation (which I had tried in the past and never been able to do for more than 30 seconds) and I liked the fact that it was Christian based. I knew that I needed a way to try to live my life more fully in the present moment and with more gratitude, so I attended it. I then read Father Thomas Keating‚Äôs primer Open Mind, Open Heart, and started trying to practice the 20 minutes of prayer twice a day.
Fast forward four years. It is an integral part of my life now. I don‚Äôt do it perfectly ‚Äì my goal is to center twice a day, but sometimes I make it one time a day and sometimes not at all. I try to go to extended intensive retreats several times a year which really helps. As Father Keating promises, the benefits of it will come not during the 20 minutes of silence itself, but in the in-between, every day, and ordinary life time. I‚Äôve noticed little things like I raise my voice at my children less often (or perhaps less loudly‚Ä¶). I am able to let things go better than I once could. I still get agitated, and fret and worry and regret, but much, much, much less than when I started. This, for me, has been nothing short of miraculous.
Our Centering Prayer group meets every Wednesday evening at 6:00 in the little prayer room right down from Lucy Turner‚Äôs office. Newcomers are always encouraged and welcomed. I hope you will consider joining us for what Father Keating calls ‚Äúthis profound form of prayer that Jesus suggests in Matthew 6:6: ‚ÄòIf you want to pray, enter your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.‚Äô ‚Äù