I am currently reading Contemplative Living: An Invitation to a Deepening Journey by Sharon Grussendorff. With Sharon’s permission I share these three paragraphs from her wonderful book that I think you will enjoy.
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“One of my earliest memories of swimming was a day when my family was visiting friends who had a pool. I was terrified to venture away from the edge of the pool. For a while I clutched onto the edge with white knuckles, slowly inching my way around the pool but never letting go. Somebody came up to me and said, “You will have more fun if you let go of the side of the pool.” The thought terrified me, but I gradually eased my grip, testing the holding of the water briefly at first, and then for longer periods, until eventually I was floating gleefully in the middle of the pool. The feeling of freedom and joy as I lay back looking up at a vast blue sky, held by the cool water, was a beautiful discovery.
This memory came back to me many years later on a silent retreat. I was starting to tentatively explore a practice of contemplative prayer, but was really struggling with the idea of letting go of my known sense of relating with God. I had come to a place of fairly relaxed and open conversational prayer, where I had developed a sense of God as a friend who I could talk to in a real and comfortable way, and the thought of letting this go felt frightening. One day while grappling with this on the retreat, the phrase flashed across my mind, let go of the side of the pool. The image that came to mind was this memory of being a little child clutching at the side of the pool, too scared to trust the holding of the water, and therefore limiting myself to the known, safe way of being in the pool. The invitation to me at the time was to let go of my mind’s images and constructs, and with that my known way of connecting with God, and daring to float freely into the mystery and holding love of God. There is a necessary loss of control and certainty in this invitation to let go, but without this loss I knew that I would never experience the wild and exhilarating freedom that is possible in complete abandonment to God.
This book is an invitation to you to explore the freedom and joy that is possible when you allow yourself to float freely in the love of God – to let go of the side of the pool, to know the delicious release and freedom of joyfully entrusting yourself to the expansive holding of God. This involves letting go of your mind’s certainty, and with that your usual ways of knowing and connecting with God. It feels frightening at first, because we are so used to the way of knowing that we have grown up with. But just as a child will never learn to trust the holding of the water without letting go of the side of the pool, so you will never learn how safely and tenderly you are held in God if you do not let go of your ideas of what God’s love looks or feels like. You have to venture away from the known to experience the unknown. You have to let go of ideas of God and love to experience these directly for yourself.”
Is contemplative prayer a new experience? If so, I invite you to let go, trust God and silently sit in this beautiful, sometimes mysterious, yet most powerful way.
If you are an existing silent prayer practitioner, I encourage you to continue with your daily silent sits. God loves you and is delighted that you have chosen to sit with Him. There is nothing more to do. Simply let God hold your hand as He gently and lovingly walks you deeper and deeper into His endless depths.
Learn more about Centering Prayer here.
One on One Coaching with Rich
Does this sound like you?
“I am bored with my life?”
“I am not doing the things that I want to do in all areas of my life:”
-career, personal, family, community.
I feel unfulfilled, like I am just going through the motions everyday.
I have dreams and goals, but I am afraid to show up and take action on them.
I don’t want years to pass and be disappointed when I look back on my life.
Integrating Centering Prayer practice with your everyday life addresses all of these thoughts.
Do you want to obtain the freedom to become your true self, the person I’m created to be?
How do I create a long lasting and sustainable centering prayer practice?
I am currently taking on clients for Centering Prayer One on One Coaching sessions.
I will work with you to setup a program designed to meet your specific needs.
Transforming the World through Contemplative Prayer: Richard Rohr, OFM, and Laurence Freeman, OSB—two long-time spiritual friends—offer practical guidance for the challenges of this time in Earth’s history. They teach us how we can put our deepest aspirations for personal realization and social transformation into practice. Their combined focus on contemplation, action, and a shared passion for truth illuminates the origins of our crisis and shows us the path toward lasting change and a more just and loving humanity. Discover the power of contemplative prayer to change the world.
The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis – Fr. Rohr gives us a six-session learning course that explores: the surprising richness we discover through simplifying our lives (without taking a vow of poverty); liberation from our self-limiting biases and certitudes; contemplation and action, two key steps toward communing more deeply with the Divine; and more.
On Encountering the Wisdom Jesus, this brilliant author and dynamic Episcopalian priest presents her first full-length audio course about rediscovering the Master of Wisdom. Twelve immersive sessions cover: the parables as wisdom tools; Jesus’s teachings about kenosis (or self-emptying: a path as radical today as it was 2,000 years ago); Jesus as tantric master; Centering Prayer, an approach to meditation as Jesus lived it, and much more. The early Christians, teaches the Reverend Cynthia Bourgeault, were afire with the spirit of Jesus, inspired fully by his teaching of a total transformation of consciousness. How do we reclaim that fire today?
Centering Prayer Course: A Training Course for Opening to the Presence of God – Centering Prayer is a silent prayer practice that can move you toward a profound relationship with the Spirit of God within. It is a way of praying that opens the door to the Divine Indwelling—the ground of our being. With Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating and his colleagues Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler and Father Carl Arico present the first online course in this method for deepening your intimacy with God and ultimately consenting to the presence and action of the Divine in all aspects of your life.
Since the time of the Desert Fathers in the third century, Finley begins, Christian mystics have practiced meditation as a way of opening to the direct presence of God in daily life. Legendary seekers such as Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Meister Eckhart explored how meditation can lead us beyond the closed horizon of the ego, to an interior and holy refuge that is always available to us. On Christian Meditation, James Finley offers a gentle introduction to this all-transforming way of life, and the ever-deepening realization of oneness with Christ it leads us to. (Based upon his book, Christian Meditation.)
Thomas Merton’s Path to the Palace of Nowhere: The Essential Guide to the Contemplative Teachings of Thomas Merton – Now James Finley, who for six years lived, prayed, and studied with Brother Louis, as Merton was known at the Abbey of Gethsemani, shares with us the gifts passed on to him by this towering figure.
The Teachings of Meister Eckhart: An Invitation to Experience God in Every Moment: The 13th-century mystic Meister Eckhart was the most brilliant Christian scholar of his day, but he was also legendary for the way that he opened listeners to the direct experience of God during his public talks. Today, his written wisdom remains alive as ever, ready to illuminate us. James Finley, one of today’s best-known teachers of the Christian contemplative tradition, invites us into Eckhart’s insights in the same way that this luminary teacher delighted in sharing them—through the spoken word.
Radical Prayer by Matthew Fox: With 24 books in print, including the bestseller Original Blessing and Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet, perhaps no one is more qualified than Matthew Fox to offer a curriculum about using the power of prayer to change our world. Now this passionate speaker and writer presents Radical Prayer, his audio opus about prayer, the utterance of our hearts. This compelling six-session course covers what prayer is and why it works, recovering the sacred masculine and feminine, exploring the dark night of the soul, deep ecumenism lessons from history’s great mystics in every tradition, and more. Enrich your life with this soulful course on the power of prayer.
Waking Up in the World is an online event gathering of 30 of today’s most inspiring spiritual teachers and social visionaries—offering their most powerful practices to help us navigate these times with courage, purpose, and love.