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Contemplative Practice Wednesdays via Zoom, All Welcome
5:00 - 6:00pm Eastern. No experience necessary. Click this post to register for the Zoom link
All are welcome to join in this community of contemplative practice that meets Wednesdays from 5:00-6:00pm Eastern. No experience is necessary. To participate, Register here for the Zoom link.
Each hour-long session includes a brief welcome and closing blessing, along with two periods of contemplative practice from ancient Christian tradition: Lectio Divina (holy reading) and a 20-minute session of “practicing silence” or “contemplation” together.
People use a variety of methods in practicing silence. Some practice “Centering Prayer,” a method developed by Thomas Keating and Contemplative Outreach. Others engage in something called “Christian Meditation,” a way of prayer developed by John Main and the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM). Both of these methods are derived from insights of the Desert Tradition, the anonymous Cloud of Unknowing, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, and others. Still other people use the ancient “Jesus Prayer,” breath work, mindfulness practice, or some combination of these.
In Contemplative Chapel, Gary Jones from time to time draws on insights from each of these traditions, and for simplicity’s sake, he regularly refers to the widely known method of “Centering Prayer.”
Therefore, here is a good place to begin: Contemplative Outreach publishes two pamphlets that Gary recommends highly - one on the ancient practice of Lectio Divina and the other on Centering Prayer. If you would like to join our virtual gatherings, please read these two pamphlets carefully. During the Wednesday night Zoom sessions, Gary will regularly review the basics of these two practices, but these pamphlets will prepare you nicely.
Even if you are experienced in these ways of contemplative prayer, these two little pamphlets can be read repeatedly, to remind us of a counter-cultural way of being. The world is teaching us every day about the importance of planning, organizing, strategizing, and orchestrating our lives. Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer depend on an entirely different posture: a posture of openness, receptivity, trust, surrender, letting go, and listening. Contemplation is about disposing ourselves to welcome the presence and activity of One who is always at work in us, loving and forgiving us, welcoming us home again to our true life. These two little pamphlets provide a good orientation.
In our Wednesday night Zoom sessions, participants arrive and remain muted throughout each session. You are welcome to have your video on or off (most leave their video on, finding that this enhances a sense of community in our practice), but sometimes anonymity feels more restful. Either way, the presence of your Zoom square on the screen, with video on or off, is an encouragement to others.
Participants give each other a great gift by holding a sacred space of peace, stillness, kindness, and non-judgmental compassion, for each other.
The experience of many is that fostering such an environment, even on Zoom, can allow weary souls to emerge from hiding, receive rest and the healing presence of God, and then return to daily lives of deeper compassion and service. It is the realization in our own lives of the apostle’s observation: “God working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20)