“Slow down, you move too fast.” These are lyrics that I grew up on. I really did not fully understand what they meant until about five years ago when I began the practice of Centering Prayer again. Now I had heard about this prayer practice for years from our friends Maureen and Richard who live in Vero Beach, Florida. Since, at that time, we visited Christine’s parents in Vero twice a year, Christine and I got to have good long talks with Richard and Maureen. I knew about finding a sacred word. I knew about the practice of sitting quietly for 20 minutes twice a day. Maureen even loaned me some of Father Keating’s early audio tapes. I tried several times to find space in my life for the practice of Centering Prayer – each time with more resolve – but the practice never took hold in me.
I really don’t know what happened five years ago, but the seeds that were planted by Richard and Maureen finally took root. I began the practice again and I have not looked back. As Brother Roger said, “Dare to begin again and again.” I did and it took. The daily practice of Centering Prayer is a marvel to me. Unexpected. A true gift.
I tell myself that I don’t have to do it, that I get to do it. I tell myself that I only have to do it five out of seven days per week, but I always wind up doing more. I give myself the freedom not to do Centering Prayer, but I choose to do it. I look forward to my time of Centering Prayer. It is one of the touchstones around which my day unfolds. How has it changed me? I have noticed that I don’t put on my “crabby pants” so often. And when I do, they don’t stay on as long either.
I don’t think of myself as a “contemplative,” but I do sit daily in quiet and consent to God’s action in my life. I don’t think that I am better or more advanced than anyone else just because I am practicing Centering Prayer; in fact, I have stopped comparing myself to others because I know how much further I need to grow. I am just glad that a daily practice of prayer has taken hold inside of me after all these years. I am grateful for the practice.
Rev. Glen Hall Reichelderfer
Madison, Wisconsin, USA