A Still Center

Lenten Practice: Centering Prayer
Daily Act: Practice Centering Prayer
Weekly Prayer Phrase:

I DWELL IN YOU AS THE SOURCE OF ALL LIFE. 

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

The blessing is this:
That you may rest into God’s presence
That a still center will open within you
As a reservoir in movement times
As the source of movement when it calls

That the center will be
Deep
Vast
Unceasing
Sturdy
Accessible
Reliable

That when you feel clumsy
Or awkward
Or unsteady
Or uncertain

It will hold fast within you
As courage
As strength

That it will be the word you speak
That you didn’t know you had to share

That it will be a surprise reserve
The “more” sometimes required
When everything else feels emptied

That it will be the constant flow beneath your surface
A well that never runs dry

That it will beckon you inward
To discover how you are called to live

That it will be the place
Where you find
The One
Who is the source
Of your life

Centering Prayer (From the Community of Christ Guide for Lent)

Centering prayer simply uses breath and a prayer word to stay focused on God’s presence. The intent of this prayer is to spend time with God, seeking no answers but merely connection to the Divine. It is called centering prayer because one’s attention is gathered in and centered on being open to and receiving God. During Lent, centering prayer helps us dwell more deeply in the mystery of God.

Sit in relaxed, comfortable, but erect posture with feet on the floor, eyes closed, hands open in your lap. Gently enter a time of prayer with the expectation and permission to be guided by the Holy Spirit in this practice of opening and receiving.

Use your breath to create a sense of peace and letting go into God. Breathe deeply, slowly, calmly, allowing the deep breaths to release you of tension throughout your body.

Focus on breathing God in, breathing all else out until you feel calm and centered. Be aware that God is present and that you are in this space intending to love and be loved by God.

Listen for a word or phrase that comes to you, expressing the desire of your heart. Repeat it silently to yourself in rhythm with your breathing.

As you become distracted—and you will—bring yourself back to that centered place by using your breath and your prayer word. Let go of the thoughts that pull you away. Merely note them and let them go.

Continue in this pattern of focus and breathe for about 20 minutes, though you may want to begin with 5–10 minutes and increase your time with practice. Set a timer so you will not have to check the time.

When the time of prayer has elapsed, offer a prayer of thanks to God, take several more breaths, and gently return your awareness to your surroundings. Trust the time spent with God will continue to bless you deep within as you move through your day.

SACRAMENTAL EATING

Lenten Practice: Holy Attention
Daily Act: Eat mindfully and slowly. Savor each bite. Notice the texture, color, and taste of your food, and consider where it comes from. Give thanks for the nourishment that is yours this day.
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“AWAKEN ME TO YOUR PRESENCE IN AND THROUGH ALL CREATION.”

A Mindfulness Meal Meditation
By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

“To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation.
When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament.”
-Wendell Berry

We bless this act of eating. The blessing is for us- to see what is already sacred and life-giving- to approach this meal as sacrament. May we savor. May we be awake enough to feel the textures and linger in each taste. May we slow our pace enough to notice the holy in each bite- a communion.

Silence

We are mindful of all those in our world who do not have access to food, or who live in places where nutritious food is hard to find. While food is a basic human right, we are aware of how food has also become a justice issue and a matter of privilege. We are prayerful for those who hunger. We recommit ourselves in each act of eating to the cause of abolishing poverty in our own neighborhoods and across the globe.

Silence

We consider the devastation to our earth that has been caused by a food culture of separation and convenience. May we make wise choices as we consider the sources of our food and do our best to support, with our hands and wallets, the options most aligned with the thriving of all life. With the food before us now, we ponder the origins of the ingredients and consider the parts of the earth that have been gathered, and the people who gathered them, placed here at our table. What field? What plant? Whose hands? How did the sun warm and the rain nourish and the soil sustain?

Silence

We realize our absolute interconnectedness with all life knowing that what physically sustains us comes from the earth. My welfare resides in your welfare. Our very life depends on this complex system of lives of which we are a part. We are in awe and grateful to be alive on this planet. The act of eating humbles us. Each breath- sacred life. Each bite- sacred life.

Silence

We focus on hope- knowing that each day we have the opportunity to impact the earth and our local communities in positive, life-giving ways. We pause in reverence for this gift of LIFE that is ours this day. We pray that we will be wise stewards of our bodies and all the other bodies that share this sacred space as neighbors. May we live in ways that contribute to wholeness for all the earth, which leads to wholeness for ourselves.

Silence

Amen.

Lenten Wrestling

Lenten Practice: Examen
Daily Act: Take inventory of your life. Use this day to pause and write down what you do daily or weekly. What is it that is most life giving in your regular schedule? Is God calling your to imagine new priorities or a different pace?
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“SEARCH MY HEART AND MAKE IT ONE WITH YOURS.”

Today’s post is written by Janné Grover, Disciple Formation Ministries Specialist for Community of Christ, and it takes us back to the foundational Lenten practice of Fasting. As you read this reflection, consider your own practice with fasting so far. As we move into the third week of Lent, what holy wrestling has occurred? What new insight has been gained?

Lenten Wrestling
By Janné Grover

Lent is one of my favorite times of year. I have grown to welcome the intentionality of prayer and fasting, the change in daily rhythm, the heightened awareness of others and the world around me, and…the wrestling. While the latter is not my favorite part of Lent, it is a process I have grown to appreciate. Let me explain.

This year, in addition to engaging regularly in Lenten practices (you may find these at www.cofchrist.org/a-guide-for-lent), I am fasting from listening to the radio while driving. I realize this is not much of a personal sacrifice, but it removes a bit of noise and clutter from my daily routine and allows me at least 40 additional minutes each day for focused thought and prayer. Yes, this is something I can do all the time, but it is a practice during Lent, which helps me focus more intentionally on what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. While most days this is a peaceful and predictable practice, I have been surprised by some challenges, which have emerged during this practice.

There is a hymn in Community of Christ Sings with an opening line that reads, “We are the ones the world awaits to live the words we pray” (305). I am confronted by the text of this hymn to consider what it means to pray for the well being of another, for an end to hunger, for peace in the world, or for clarity of thought regarding an important decision. I have wrestled with what God expects of me, and to what I am called to give my attention and energy. Sometimes I feel like Jacob coming out of his tent after wrestling with God. If I pray for something, am I supposed to be part of the answer? That’s a lot to ask, isn’t it? It almost makes me feel too overwhelmed to bother praying about anything! What does God really expect of me…one person with too much on my plate already?

And after the spiritual wrestling match is over, I begin to understand with a bit more clarity.

Praying for the well being of another doesn’t mean I can change the person’s circumstance, but it keeps me present with them in that circumstance. It reminds me of what it means to be companions on a journey. Praying for an end to world hunger doesn’t mean I have to solve the world’s systemic issues surrounding poverty and hunger, but it reminds me a solution will not miraculously happen without a willingness to examine the impact of my own choices and generosity. Praying for peace doesn’t make peace happen, but it keeps me focused on living as a presence of peace and engaged in acts of social justice, which can create pathways toward peace for others. Praying for clarity of thought reminds me to silence my inner conversation and just listen.

In and through the spiritual wrestling I am reminded that prayer changes me as much as it changes a condition for which I pray. It keeps me connected to others, to all creation, and to God. It is humbling to accept that I do not need to know or be the answer to my prayers… but if I journey in an awakened way, I am open to that possibility.

“We are the ones the world awaits to live the words we pray.”

-Edith Sinclair Downing , Community of Christ Sings #305