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.
“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.
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I am currently taking on clients for Centering Prayer One on One Coaching sessions. I am happy to setup weekly, bi-weekly or monthly sessions with you over the phone or skype to help you go deeper into your centering prayer practice and integrate it into your daily life. Contact me for more information.
Contemplative Light Course – The Divine Transformation: Essentials of Christian Mysticism – Welcome to an introductory course on both practice and perspectives of timeless teachings from the Christian Mystical and Contemplative traditions! Whether you are a long-time practitioner looking to solidify your understanding and framework for practice or a beginner interested in immersing yourself in this teaching, this course can serve as a rich resource.
Feel free to peruse the content on the Contemplative Light YouTube Channel.
I am currently reading Contemplative Living: An Invitation to a Deepening Journey by . I just finished reading Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening by Diana Butler Bass, A Taste of Silence by Carl J Arico and The Bible Makes Sense by Walter Brueggeman
Prepare to be immersed in the 1st Century A.D. context of the life, work, teachings, and actions of Jesus. Check out Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright. It is based on his book Simply Jesus. Enjoy an article I wrote about one of the lectures on the Beatitudes.
This course is a short course based on Prof. N.T. Wright’s latest book, Simply Good News. Tom Wright will guide you through the chapters of his book through videos that suggest what some of the main points are. You will instantly get into the heart of the idea of ‘good news’ as it was understood by the 1st Century writers of the New Testament. You will be brought into their world in order to make more sense of what ‘good news’ means in our world.
Check out my review of Christian Prayer Methods by Dr. Philip St. Romain. Explore prayer methods that go back to Jesus.
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David Frenette’s book The Path of Centering Prayer reenergized the Centering Prayer tradition with its fresh insights and teachings. Centering Prayer Meditations: Effortless Contemplation to Deepen Your Experience of God is a wonderful companion audio program created to be equally rewarding as a stand-alone guide – gives listeners an immersive resource to learn contemplative prayer, step by step and in the moment. With clarity and compassionate presence, Frenette explains the essential principles of this contemplative practice for both new and seasoned practitioners.
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.
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? 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. (Based upon her book, The Wisdom Jesus.)
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.)