Float Freely in the Love of God

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.


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