I am grateful to Bryan McDowell, the leader of the workshop on Centering Prayer at the Renovare Prayer Retreat I attended at Mo-Ranch in the Texas Hill Country this past weekend. He provided us with the image of centering prayer as something like crawling up into God’s lap. I immediately thought about the joy of cuddling my small grandchildren in my lap and how much that means to me. I have been practicing centering prayer since I returned home. I had fallen away from this practice and forgotten how much it blesses my life.
Walking the labyrinth was another spiritual practice I’ve let slide. After the workshop on the history of the labyrinth with Nancy Willet, I walked the Mo-Ranch labyrinth with Pat, a new friend I met at the workshop. I had never walked a labyrinth with someone I knew before, and it multiplied the blessings of that experience. Pat was one of many amazing people I met at the retreat, people for whom prayer is as necessary as breathing.
I also spent time with my assigned small group, led by Brian Hardesty-Crouch, the leader of the workshop on the Prayer of Examen. We laughed and shared our stories and prayed together. Brian and Jeff and Mike and Laurel are now part of my life’s story. Their openness and willingness to be vulnerable and to listen made me feel welcome and loved, and I’m grateful for the blessing of knowing them. All of us at the retreat were blessed to spend time learning from Nate Foster and Richella Parham, the keynote speakers, young people who are wise beyond their years. I look forward to reading their books!
Prayer is just one of the spiritual disciplines Nate talked about at the retreat. To call prayer a discipline makes it sound like doing push-ups with someone barking out the count. I think that’s why I like the image of a child crawling up into God’s loving lap so much. It sounds less like punishment and more about the blessing of being in God’s presence. That, in reality, is where I spent this past weekend, in God’s presence through the prayer and the worship and the singing and the reminders that I am a child of God. I returned home refreshed with my parched soul abundantly watered. My challenge now is to make the time to continue practicing prayer and other spiritual disciplines to keep myself centered in God’s presence in the midst of all that this life throws at me.
Grace and Peace,