Q: Prior to discovering Centering Prayer I practiced meditation using a mantra. Somewhere along the way I found myself inside a space like the cleft of a rock, which I considered to be my created self hidden with Christ in God. I enjoyed going to my special space, especially at night as I lay in bed preparing to sleep. I would also visit this secret space periodically for prayer or to commune with the Holy Spirit. One day I discovered a spring of living water in my special sacred space. Now I drink of this water (in my mind’s eye) and I marvel at the kindness of God in providing me such a space. My question: Is it okay to practice Centering Prayer from this sacred space, or do I need to go deeper down within myself?
A: I was deeply moved by your description of your sacred space, calling to mind for me the inner room that the Lord speaks about in Matthew 6:6.
I began to ponder why the Lord led you into the Centering Prayer practice, where we are invited to let go of all thoughts, images, feelings, etc. Could it be the Lord is asking you to go deeper into the prayer and let go of the image of your sacred space, perhaps using it as a vestibule to Centering Prayer, but releasing it once you begin. This might be likened to what Jesus said to Mary Magdalene — “don’t cling to me” — inviting her to enter into a deeper relationship. I do not know; this is for you to discern. As part of your discernment, I recommend a daily practice of Centering Prayer for 30 days following the four guidelines of the prayer, especially guideline 3. Keep in mind that Centering Prayer is a prayer of consenting to God‘s presence and action in our lives, allowing God to love us on God’s terms and in God’s way.
I hope this is a help to you with coming to an answer to your question: Is it okay to practice Centering Prayer from this sacred space, or do I need to go deeper down within myself?
In prayer, Fr Carl