Q: How can the Welcoming Prayer help us during this time of Covid-19?
Mary Dwyer: What an extraordinary time we are all living through. Personally, I feel a deep and urgent call to live out of the "contemplative dimension of the gospel" (as Thomas Keating would say) NOW more than ever. While many of us have the opportunity to lengthen or increase our Centering Prayer practice time, the bombardment of fear, uncertainty, pain coming at us seems relentless. COVID-19 and the constant media coverage have released free-floating anxiety into the very air we breathe. Our bodies are carrying the stress whether we are aware of it or not. The Welcoming Prayer facilitates our ability to move through the "ordinary routines" of our daily lives with extraordinary love. No matter what our personal experience of these days may be (stressful, peaceful, etc.) our bodies are reacting to the palpable sense of dread and doom. The Welcoming Prayer allows us to be beacons of LIGHT and LOVE as we step into our days with the RADICAL, INVINCIBLE TRUST that the One who brought us to this moment will also see us through this moment. On the deepest level we can affirm that "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well" (Julian of Norwich) rather than just mirroring the worry and fear that surround us.
In following the three simple movements of the Welcoming Prayer we ground ourselves in our bodies in this very moment allowing ourselves to become vessels of Spirit rather than containers of worry.
Let's review those three movements:
Movement 1: Feel Into/sink into whatever you are experiencing in your body in this moment
Movement 2: Silently "Welcome" that physical sensation knowing that God is present in EVERY experience we have in our human form
Movement 3: "I let go of my desire for security, affection, control, and embrace this moment as it is."
Our ability to let go and embrace these days can set the course for a brighter tomorrow, not only for us and those we love, but for our whole human family.
May God deepen our consent.
Mary Dwyer is a long-time student of Fr. Thomas Keating and has been practicing Centering Prayer since the 1980's. She is serving as a member of the Gift Committee and the Welcoming Prayer Service Team of Contemplative Outreach. She previously has served as Chairperson of the Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. Governing Board; member of the Contemplative Outreach faculty; and coordinator for the Living Flame program and coordinator of the Miami chapter. Mary now devotes her time between private practice and giving retreats and workshops on behalf of Contemplative Outreach throughout the US and internationally.