Monday, May 11, 2015

Welcoming Prayer

I continue to be blessed by reading Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault. I am reading it slowly - a chapter a day in order to try to digest the important understandings in it. But WOW it is speaking to me.  And as always, it seems to relate to the scriptures of the day.

Today's texts include

1 Timothy 6:11-12
But as for you, man (and woman!)  of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

I remember many years ago listening to a series of tapes (not CD's - it was MANY years ago!) by Rick Warren on preaching.  And one of his emphases was "Yes but how?"  We can say things like pursue righteousness - but always the question is - what does that look like and how do we do that?
 In this book Cynthia Bourgeault writes about the emotional programs for happiness - security and survival, esteem and affection and power and control that of course do not work and say our energy.  They lead to our attachments that make us feel safe and comfortable and aversions that push our buttons.  And these "programs for happiness" are so often unconscious and an illusion and do not lead to happiness.
The welcoming prayer is counter intuitive but I know that it works.   She describes it as "deep surrender with gutsy presence."  As I write about it, I know I am going to make it sound simpler and easier than it is.  But I will give it a try. There are three steps
1. focus and sink in
2. welcome
3. let go
What this means is that when something is stirring us up - like conflict with a family member or hearing about gossip about us or job insecurity or health issues.  We begin by focussing on it.  That is not to say analyzing the situation or psychoanalyzing ourselves.  But focus and bring it to our attention. (as opposed to what I might do - like eat potato chips and play a video game!) Focus and welcome the emotions that come with it.  The anger, the fear, the pride, whatever it is. Welcome.  She says that when we welcome it we have avoided the pitfalls of disassociation and repression.  And what I know is that welcoming means seeing and accepting our shadow.  She writes: "By embracing the thing you once defended yourself against or ran from, you are actually disarming it, removing its power to hurt you or chase you back into your smaller self." 
It is a form of surrender: "Surrender understood as an interior act will place you in alignment with magnetic center, the seat of your inner observer, through which Divine Being can flow into you."   And for me another way of saying this is that we give it to God.  And then we let it go.  Here is the formula one woman used:
I let go of my desire for security and survival.
I let go of my desire for esteem and affection.
I let go of my desire for power and control
I let go of my desire to change the situation
And what this means is that we are aligning ourselves with God and God's plan for our lives. And allowing God's presence and power to have its way with us.
As I write this I think - this may not be new but I still struggle all the time with MY plans and MY image then get into some kind of crazy stuff that leads me back to my attachments and aversions.  Anyway, I write this to remind myself that God wants me to be free and full of the energy and love of life.
So may we all welcome all parts of ourselves into consciousness and allow God to do God's work of healing within us.  
45 years ago my dear friend Susan gave me a plaque that I continue to have hanging on the walls of my home.  It is called "Friendship" by Dinnah Maria Mulock Craik (written in 1859)
   Oh, the comfort—
    the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person—
    having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
    but pouring them all right out,
    just as they are,
    chaff and grain together;
    certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
    keep what is worth keeping,
    and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away
We have such a friend in Jesus!


No comments: