The Centering Prayer group at St. Thomas More parish in Sarasota, Florida, USA, started doing one hour contemplative walks on a Saturday afternoon in a local wooded area followed by time for fellowship and snacks. People from other Centering Prayer groups in the area are invited to join as well.
The idea is to immerse and open ourselves to God’s presence and action in nature through a silent, slow walk followed by a sit.
Here are the steps we follow:
- Gather everyone in a circle. Welcome and allow people to introduce themselves.
- Facilitator asks everyone to close their eyes and then takes the group through an exercise of opening the senses to the present moment and to the nature around them. We start by taking a few slow breaths together, then with feeling the ground under our feet, then to the smells we may getting, then to what sounds we are hearing, then to what might be touching them (wind, breeze) then finally to open our eyes and gaze silently at our surroundings.
- We then walk in silence and slowly through the woods to a clearing where we sit for 20 minutes of Centering Prayer. I usually allow people to find their own spot in the clearing but it could be done sitting in a circle. People usually bring towels to sit on.
- We gather everyone, if they are not already in a circle, and ask them to share any reflections from the experience.
- We walk back out to our starting place in silence and slowly.
- We gather at the picnic tables for snack and fellowship. Participants stay for various lengths of time.
Due to the weather in Florida, we usually do these walks in the winter and early spring months as summer and fall can be too warm.
– submitted by Noreen Delaney