What a powerful night we had last night as Phileena Heuertz shared her story, taught us the history of contemplative prayer, and led us in the practice of centering prayer.  I am still thinking about these words:

Solitude teaches us how to be present.

Silence teaches us how to listen.

Stillness teaches us how to act.

Phileena taught us that centering prayer is rooted in the doctrine of the divine indwelling and is a process of interior purification.  And, if and when we consent, a union with God.  How beautiful.  One of the key teachings for me was that centering prayer is really not about listening for God’s voice or seeking an experience with him that we can talk about later.  Rather, it is to rest in his presence.  The evidence of God’s movement and presence in our time of centering prayer will be seen in the life that we live.  Over time, we will become more grace-filled, more at peace, less angry, more like Christ.

Download Phileena’s Teaching

The eight minutes of centering prayer was about what I expected.  The first couple minutes were, well, excruciating.  I couldn’t settle in and my thoughts flooded the space.  But then I said my phrase, “Here I am.”   More thoughts came.  As Phileena said, “the mind has thoughts like the heart has beats.”  So true.  I must have said, “Here I am” at least 250 times during that eight minutes.  Nothing magical happened in those moments, at least not that I felt.  I have a sense though, that God was at work.  I trust that he was.

Our time at the table, receiving communion, reminded me of the restoration Jesus offers and throughout that time, I said my sacred phrase again and again, “Here I am.”  “Here I am.”  I watched as we all lined up to receive, our collective, “Here we are, Lord” demonstrated, although not uttered.  There is not much else to say.   “Here we are.”

I can’t wait for my centering prayer time tomorrow.  Solitude.  Silence.  Stillness.  Here I am.  Would you be willing to join me this week?  Let’s just try 15 minutes every day this week.  (If you want to ease your way in, that’s okay too, but by Wednesday or so, try 15)  Here’s one way you might try:

one.  Sit in an upright, attentive posture and place your hands in your lap.

two.  Close your eyes and bring to mind your sacred word or image as your way of consenting to the presence and action of God within you.  Choose a name for God, a characteristic of God, or a word that symbolizes consent.

three.  With your eyes closed, recall your sacred word or image to begin.  As you notice your thoughts, gently return to your sacred word.  Do this each time your notice your thoughts.

four.  When your prayer time is over, transition slowly from your prayer practice to your active life.

If you want to know more about centering prayer, check out the many resources at Gravity Center’s website.  Thomas Keating’s book Open Mind, Open Heart, is also a must-have.

Last thing, Phileena reminded me that she just started a new blog series that will explore the themes in her book, Pilgrimage of the Soul, so take a look at that to follow along.  

Peace to you all,

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