The Forming

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

“… and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Romans 5:4-5, NRSV

When the memory of the moment
You said your “sacred yes”
Grows dim and distanced in your soul…

And you question how or if
The encounter that changed you
Could have happened at all…

And you wonder if what you’ve
Committed to is more
Than you are capable of…

And the anxieties of the unknown
Begin rushing through you
As a prickling, pulsing fear…

When the burden feels too heavy,
The blessing too unclear,
And the road ahead is marked endurance

B R E A T H E
Again
and
Again
and
Again.

Breathe until this crowd of questions
Narrows to the most important few.

Breathe until your hope is restored.
Breathe until your vision is clear.
Breathe until a stillness enters
And calms the storm.

Breathe until you become aware
Of the One who issued the invitation
Who remains beside you,
And works within you–
Who is doing the forming
And who is the form.

Spiritual Practice: Breathe deeply. What does it look like in your life to trust the One who is doing the forming and is also the form?

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.