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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

I create these islands of silence in all kinds of places in my life. They are a respite. They are places where I can listen. They are havens where I can stop talking — to myself or others. They are places where I can see clearly, where I can feel safely.

I’ve done this all my life. I have been “Faithful to the Quiet, Finding the Silence that Soothes my Soul.”

One of these places is sitting quietly in Centering Prayer. I had the great blessing to be called to this contemplative “non-talking” practice of prayer. And greater yet, I had the honor of knowing and working with Father Basil Pennington OCSO who taught and wrote many volumes on Centering Prayer.

This is how you go about taking up this prayer and what it is, a simple, humble being to God.

“Silence is God’s first language. Everything else is poor translation.”
Thomas Keating

Silence may be God’s language but most of us have difficulty in fluently speaking silence. We live in a hyped-up, super fast and crazy noisy world and we tend to bounce around in the noise. Words often equal noise for us. Spoken words, silent words present as thoughts, and noises of the environment and living spaces in which we live all conspire to equate to noises that block the passageway of Spirit. Words more often block communication than facilitate it. Words get in the way of our ability to listen, when listening is what is truly called for.

There is a simple prayer. A prayer of only one word. A prayer which only uses that one word when other words and thoughts are trying to interfere with the prayer. This prayer is Centering Prayer, brought to Western Christianity from the ancient practices of the Fathers in the Desert contemplative practice. You may practice this prayer by yourself or you may find a group that meets in silent prayer time.

It is a simple prayer of attentive love, encouraged to be practiced twice a day for twenty minutes. It is a silent way of possessing inner peace so that we can bring it to others. It is a contemplative prayer of the heart – a prayer of “being to God.”

While this is a simple prayer, it is to many not an easy prayer practice to enter into. Sometimes first reactions are an extreme uneasiness to being quiet and doing nothing for twenty minutes, which seems like much more than that. Do not worry if your first attempts are much shorter than twenty minutes. Give over the amount of time you can do comfortably and return to it later. Your effort will add up. This is not really a technique to master, but a willingness to give yourself over and be in a mindful presence to the divine.

 

However, there are a few general guidelines to take into this practice, if you should decide to try this way of silent grace in your day.

1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s Presence and action within.

2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce your sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s Presence and action within you.

3. When you become aware of thoughts, return ever so gently to the sacred word.

4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.

Very often in a group setting of Centering Prayer, a facilitator will end the session with the group saying the Our Father aloud softly and slowly together to bring you back and ground you to time and place in the real world.

You can do this in your private practice as well. The Spirit, as God’s Presence, is working within you during the time you give yourself over to Centering Prayer, and this gives your psyche time to readjust to the external senses and to enable you to bring the atmosphere of silence into your daily life.

Centering Prayer is a very powerful prayer when you choose to make it a practice. It is not just during the twenty minute period of time of silence that it works. The graces of Centering Prayer become evident to you in the rest of your life as well. Contemplative prayer is the opening of the mind and heart – your whole being to God, the ultimate Mystery. It is divine union.

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“It may not look like it, but I am writing now,” I said to Tom as I was folding a new batch of clean, fresh towels just taken from the dryer and still snuggly warm. He was watching me from his lounge chair as I completed the task on the top of our new spring bedspread.

I was heading for my writing room as soon as I completed this household task, something writers often do — put other “stuff” in front of creative time. Yet starting points were bubbling up within me for writer’s warm up, so that’s why I count it as writing.

The next part of my writing was sitting a spell with words by Michele Weldon, author of Writing to Save Your Life, about the quality of quiet in a writer’s life. Something that really attracts me, since I am writing a book titled, Being Faithful to the Quiet,  (subtitle, Finding the Silence that Soothes Your Soul). My book is a mix between memoir and mystery, a long-lived mystery that encircled my life like the ripples formed when a pebble is thrown into the water. And that pebble was thrown at my birth.  It is about the grace of the quiet and the pain lived out in  being silenced.

I relate to much of what she says in one very small section of a great book. Did you know that the genre of books on writing is only topped in numbers sold by the Christian Bible. So many writers write about writing!  Anyway, this is not a diversion, my reading about writing, is is part of my warmup practice to get into the quiet myself and begin writing. Hence, before I begin on searching my words and rhythm for my drafts of my book, I continue warm up with a short contribution to Napkinwriter. I am grateful to  the writing and readership of my five year Napkinwriter blog to keep me practiced in writing. It has spawned poems and memories I either did not know was there or thought I had forgotten. That’s the magic of the written word. So many creative journeys open up.

Weldon quotes Sarah Orne Jewett in a 1908 letter she wrote to Willa Cather,

“You must find your own quiet center of life and write from that to the world.” And she says these words hold true almost a century later. They do, for me. And from that quiet center of life, I also resolved mysteries and dilemmas in my life.  That is what I write about in my book because I continued to find practices of prayer and movement and contemplation, different types all through my life. They were gifts of grace to me. Saving grace, I would even say. And not all grace and prayer look like prayer, just like my folding towels didn’t look like writing.

 

 

 

 

 

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These two words — ease and grace — sounded in what I thought to be a most unusual place for me to hear them, but maybe not. I was getting a “hold-over” to next appointment with my cranio-sacral and accurpressure, reflexologist practitioner.  She, as she worked near my side thoracic muscles asked me to “forgive and release with ease and grace” anything I no longer needed to hang onto, and current and family ancestor issues came to mind.

Love was the feeling and tears were the immediate result with a pain in the heart, not the knee which has been presenting a problem to my mobility. I have two brothers and a sister-in-law experiencing difficult physical problems and I am at an arm’s length distance to be of any help with this ongoing challenge. I wish to do and be more for them. I do what I can in my prayer and Reiki healing gift and hold out for the Highest Good, knowing it truly does surround them.

The words, “ease and grace” though surprised me yesterday at that juncture, so I am applying them to my physical self. They are big in my spiritual concepts and work. In fact, in one of my regular spiritual readings from  Unity’s Daily Word, the word for Sunday, Oct. 16 and Mon. oct. 17 were Grace (Sun) and Ease (Mon).

On that Sunday, we went to the Open House of the house that was to become ours. On Monday, Oct. 17 the word was Ease and I wrote on the page, “I accept our new home”. and “We found our new home today.”

That day we began conversations and number crunching activities that moved us into our new home on Dec. 3, less than two months later. Using all resources we had to obtain the home, the mover even provided the truck and two men to move us into the home.

That was EASE AND GRACE.

I am trying to change a tendency I’ve had for a long time — and that is to either make things hard on myself or harder than they have to be. I’ve made great progress with this but know it is still an error in my flesh.

Today, I see grace and ease working in my life and I open the door to let Spirit express in me in wise and wonderful ways. I call on wisdom and understanding as I realize the innate divinity within me.  That is the mystery I contemplate now.

I am hoping that as ease and grace continue to fill my life and I give into it, that I take inspired action (and thoughtful contemplation) and sow the seeds of more good upon the earth, enjoying the act of co-creation along the way.

I see others doing this. I can do this too.

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