Friday, September 23, 2011
"Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship."
-- Fr. Thomas Keating
founding member and spiritual guide of Contemplative Outreach,
by Sister Laura Zelten
I had the opportunity to participate in Common Prayer at St. Norbert College in De Pere. Common Prayer is every Wednesday at 10:10 am where the college community takes time out of the busy schedule to share prayer. This particular day we were in small groups. I chose to go to the Mulva Library where Campus Minister Sandy Murphy was doing a piece on the blocks to contemplative prayer in our lives. We were a group of 20 women from all walks of life: married, single, staff, faculty and students.
We started the prayer with defining what contemplative prayer is in our own lives. Sandy gave a handout with some definitions on it. We took quiet time to define contemplation.
I welcomed the invitation to take some quiet time. I believe contemplation helps me to be ready for the busyness of each day. I start my day with quiet time. My first prayer in the morning is when I tie my walking shoes at 5:30 am. I say "God as I begin this day may each step I take be in your direction." Then I set out for my walk. The quietness of the early morning and being with nature is very contemplative. To walk with the changes of the seasons or to meet other walkers with a morning greeting helps to begin my day with a perspective of God's presence in and around me.
At Common Prayer Sandy asked, "What are some blocks to contemplative prayer in your life?" The answers varied from social networking and always being connected to noisy environments, mental list making, not knowing how to slow one's self down, and just not taking the time out of one's schedule.
For me, if I don't do it in the morning by the time I get home at night I am too tired or too wound up from the days activities to do quality contemplation.
Sandy went on to explain that, like our faith, our prayer life needs to be practiced. So she challenged us to take 3 minutes of quiet prayer time each day. Members of our group welcomed the invitation and were eager to set aside time each day for prayer.
How do you practice contemplation in your life? Where do you go in order to connect with God?