Thursday, October 22, 2015

“Just sit with it”

In seminary, most of the Methodist students said, “Just sit with it” — this became almost their mantra. After some time, I learned to “just sit with it” when I was troubled or stressed or tired.

After months of just sitting with thoughts about meditation, this morning I signed up to receive a contemplative meditation newsletter. The first article I read “Sit” tells of a young woman who wanted to learn to meditate and no matter how hard she tried to find her own mantra, all she got was “Sit.” She was disappointed because it was not more. It was, as she writes, “sit:”

Was this it? I was hoping for something with at least two syllables, something grander, maybe even life changing! I thought perhaps I must have misheard, so I prayed again and again and then again on another day. The answer was always the same, a gentle loving nudge to do nothing else but “Sit.”
Kimberly Boren in Living Contemplatively (10-9-15)

For months now, I have wanted to bring my desire to meditate to a contemplative prayer group. But the time never has seemed to work itself out. Tuesday evenings are spoken for as are Wednesday and Thursday fro 6:30 on. Early morning suits me but not others. Before Sunday church also suites me, but who else wants to get up early on Sunday?

Maybe the above are excuses for my deciding not to offer yet another group because my history with meditation groups has been spotty: I led contemplative prayer groups in both Colorado Springs and Denver that met with varying degrees of success. That is, the same several people came weekly at first, then attendance dwindled to once a month. At the UUWC building we shared, I led a meditation and labyrinth walking group on Wednesday afternoons at 4PM. For several months stalwart meditators came, then real life schedules and choices interfered and attendance dwindled to Sandie and me. Forgetting that Jesus said “wherever two or more are gathered …” (Mat 18:20) I called it quits.

At the beginning of October I asked all of St. Paul’s to pray for the church each afternoon at 5PM. “St. Paul’s” also includes me. So I prayed. Before I asked all of us to pray for the church, I asked the mystery I call God to give me just one idea that that would help this congregation grow to its fullest potential. All I get is, “pray.” “Pray” is that all? And recently, “pray together.” We are church after all. Perhaps the way to pray is not in silence but aloud, where sharing of concerns and joys prevails. I love that kind of vocal, community prayer. And I love the ways we pray that are so different from heads bowed and hands folded. When I lead retreats, I offer various ways of praying to those attending. We may try drawing a passage of scripture, walking the labyrinth while singing a favorite hymn, knitting a prayer shawl where all stitches a mini-prayers for those who are hospitalized or even shading a mandala with colored pencils.

There are resources for praying. I just went to my garage and brought in eight books including Kitchen Table Wisdom; The Meditation Bible; Creating Mandalas; Labyrinths and Mazes; Praying with Visionary Women. Still in the garage are: Woman’s Ways of Knowing; Praying with Hands; and Praying in Color. Each would be a rich resource for use in a prayer group.

Some books focus on contemplative prayer. And for those among you who love the Jesuits (Society of Jesus) I have completed the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola and I am a trained spiritual director. I would be pleased to lead a bit of the spiritual exercises to see if there is interest in pursuing this arduous prayer training.

What the above seems to mean is that if you wish to go deeper into your prayer life, set aside time alone or with friends to pray whether aloud or silently, whether with crayons or music or poems.

Let's all with with it. And let’s pray.