Taking the Time to Practice

Lenten Reflection, Friday, April 1

By: Ashley Cameron

I recently described my viewpoint on my personal relationship with God like a relationship with a dear friend. There are seasons when we know every minute detail of each other’s daily lives. And then there are seasons where we go months with only sporadic check-ins. The relationship ebbs and flows but there is never any love lost in either season of life. Lately, my relationship with God has been one where there are only sporadic check-ins. But there has been no love lost.

This Lent, I decided to enter a season where God and I were back in the “knowing every minute detail” phase or at least have more than an occasional, “Hey, how’s it going?” So, I took on practicing Centering Prayer with David May and the small group on Thursday mornings. Fr. Thomas Keating, a central figure in the Centering Prayer movement, writes, “[centering prayer] is a discipline to foster the relationship [with God].”

The practice is for you to settle in a comfortable position, close your eyes, focus on a sacred word, and then sit in silence for about 20-30 minutes. As David reminds us, when you have thoughts float in, simply brush them away and focus back on the sacred word. It seems simple enough, but for myself who is constantly thinking of the next five things on my to-do list, it is difficult to let go of what is going on around and within me for 20 minutes of silence. I even told someone that I wasn’t sure if Centering Prayer was an efficient use of my time.

I continuously had these thoughts creeping in and thought that this is not what Centering Prayer is “supposed to be.” But then I realized that these thoughts weren’t ones of daily tasks and chores, but deeper wanderings of my imagination. I remembered ideas and longings of doing new projects or hobbies that would bring me great joy and allow me to be in conversation with God that have recently been lost within the busy day-to-day.

This someone’s response to me was, “I want to affirm that this is absolutely an efficient use of your time because, in being a spiritually whole person, there is no better use of your time than making time for your relationship with God. And I would invite you to consider that maybe what it is ‘supposed to be’ is what it ends up being.”

It was a reminder that in cultivating my relationship with God, it isn’t “supposed to be” one way or another. Rather, that as long as I’m taking the time to practice simply being, then it will deepen. And if this practice ebbs and flows in my routine, there is no love lost between myself and God. God will always be present.