|Just the girls today…the boys were off shooting things…
My kids are all home.
That means all five of my babies, the ones I rocked and nursed and cuddled and cried over and laughed with – they’re all back in the house. They’re together. There’s something awesome and beautiful about that, what they make when they are together. It is a sure and steady thing, the most brilliant and amazing tangible evidence of love I’ve ever seen.
And then there are the extra pieces that come along, the bonus bits of energy in boyfriends and best friends. They round out the day and bring joy.
The house is full. It is loud again. And it is good.
But it is loud, I’ll admit; and that’s a bit jarring. But I am glad for it.
So I rested, today; after a beautiful service at church and some good time with my youngest girl, we came home to a chaotic lunch and a nap for me. After two hours on the couch, with the chaos swirling around me, I awoke refreshed.
The service today lingers in my heart, for many reasons. It was a very interesting, unusual message on prayer – not quite what you might have expected. Brian talked a bit about his experience with centering prayer and the influence of Thomas Keating on his spiritual life. He mentioned having a “mantra” – a keyword that helps “bring you back” when your mind begins to wander or you find yourself distracted, and Brian went on to say that learning how to refocus, reduce anxiety and redirect energy with this “centering word” has become part of his everyday life – not just his prayer life.
Because I work closely with Brian on a weekly basis, and because often our work is anxiety-inducing (THE MESSAGE IS TOO LONG! WE’VE ACCIDENTALLY OFFENDED SOME PEOPLE! THE MESSAGE IS TOO SHORT! I DON’T KNOW HOW WE’RE GOING TO END THIS SERVICE! WE FORGOT TO TELL THE WESTCHESTER TEAM WHAT WE’RE DOING! ARE YOU CRAZY? FINANCES ARE GETTING TIGHT! ONE OF THE LIGHTS IS BROKEN! I HAVE TOO MANY EMAILS! HELP!!!), I just wanted to share my perspective on the spiritual practices he has put into place since his sabbatical.
I have literally watched him, in the middle of a conversation, reach back into a place that he didn’t have before and find that calmness, some strength, a sort of peace. I don’t say this to simply add my testimony to the truth he brought today, but to tell you that the practice of centering prayer can not only change your life, but impact your relationships as well.
Imagine being in a conversation in which your anxiety levels are rising; think about what could happen if things get heated and out of control. Imagine that you are struggling with something that’s been said and you find yourself unable to listen.
And now imagine that you have practiced the art of centering your mind, calming yourself in centering prayer. Although your experience is in the presence of God, in silence, you find that you can calm yourself and return to the conversation – be present without your emotions or your adrenaline rising.
Brian is doing this now on a regular basis, and it’s had a profound impact on our working relationship. There’s something incredibly safe about working with someone who can bring this kind of influence to your dialogue. It builds trust. Ultimately, it benefits the Kingdom as we work together more effectively, with more focus.
As believers, what if we were the ones who brought peace into heated conversations? What if, when things escalate and tension begins to creep in, we were the ones bringing a calming light? In the midst of challenging invective regarding politics or social issues or relationship stuff or religion, think of how things might change if we became bringers of peace.
We could change the world, one conversation at a time.
So give it a try. Trust Brian, as he said today. Trust Him.
We ended the service today with one of the most powerful songs I’ve heard recently. You might add this to your time with God; it can gently lead you to a place of remembrance, embracing the comfort and reality of who God is and how He regards the human race. Let Him speak to you.
I am the Lord your God
I go before you now
I stand beside you
I’m all around you
Though you feel I’m far away
I’m closer than your breath
I am with you
More than you know