Q: I have been practicing Centering Prayer consistently for the past three years. Over the past few months or so, I have noticed that I have not had so many extraneous thoughts as I usually have had, and started experiencing a sense of calm. However, over the past few weeks, I have been aware of a sense of standing in front of a very large rock or door, and I cannot enter, although I long to. In that moment, I feel terrified, and have thought about giving up the practice, or just going back and thinking extraneous thoughts during my time. I know that my overarching sense of God is not of love, but of being disappointed in me, despite wanting that to be different. I am in therapy. My question is, is it possible to get beyond this? I am really discouraged.
A: You are right where you need to be — trust the process! Keep sitting in prayer! We move deeper in this journey of healing by practicing Radical, Invincible Trust in the One who leads us to something and will see us through it. Your experience sounds much like the Dark Night of Sense. Fr. Thomas Keating’s book, Intimacy with God may be very helpful at this juncture. It seems you are being invited to a deeper relationship, but for that to happen much of our old ideas/concepts must be let go of.
Fr. Thomas says elsewhere:
The spiritual journey then teaches us the following:
1. To believe in the Divine Indwelling within us, fully present and energizing every level of our being.
2. To recognize that this energy is benign, healing, and transforming.
3. To open to its gradual unfolding, step by step, both in prayer and action.
Keep sitting. Hopefully you have a prayer group to help support your practice. Either way, it is working! There is more to be revealed and this won’t last forever. Be curious and open to what comes next.
Blessings on your journey,