Sun Breaking Through2

Image courtesy of Joshua Burgard

Today has given me the magical gift of a wonderful centering prayer experience that occurred within the context of a community of well loved and trusted friends. My first thought from that experience that I want to write about is the beginning thought I had as I entered the sacred prayer space by focusing on my breathing. I realized I was breathing God’s spirit and love in, feeling it spread throughout my body, and then breathing God’s spirit and love back out into “community.” Then I realized my soul floats on every breath,  and when I take my last breath it will float out on the last breath I release into a new “community of existence” contained within the embrace of God’s love.  With that image of death I was able to release some of the fear I have surrounding my father’s aging process as well as my own. My father’s  soul will be released into the spiritual realm of “breath” in the embrace of God’s love when he releases his last breath—-and, in eternity, my soul will reunited with his .

The second major “insight” that came from today’s centering prayer experience happened because I was somewhat successful in quieting my “committee meeting” of random thoughts that always compete for my attention when I am involved in centering prayer. As a result, and quite unexpectedly, during my prayer time the visual image of a word came out of the darkness and moved towards me in my mind’s eye. That word was hope. I am certain it was God’s way of telling me to not forget to “hope.” I am not one who is used to experiencing free-floating hope. I generally attach my thoughts of hope onto a particular outcome, like ” I hope we don’t get the ice and snow our winter warning is telling us is on the way” or “I hope this upcoming semester will be a pleasant one for me and my students.

The skill of open-ended hoping is something I seemed to have lost somewhere between my childhood and now. I am going to make a conscientious effort to take a deep breath and remind myself to “hope” several times during today and the next few days. I am going to try practicing the skill of open-ended hoping. Yes, I still hope and pray for peace, and I still hope love will overcome evil. In other words, I still have specific hopes. However, I think God was reminding me this morning that I need to strengthen my soul’s well-being by making a paradigm shift from a intermittently hopeful outlook or attitude to one that is consistently hopeful.

For me, my life outcomes are strongly associated with my expectations. My mind is a powerful thing, and whatever I feed my “mind energy” into is often likely to happen. For instance, when I was in the second grade our county health nurse would visit our small rural school room periodically in order to keep us all up to date on our immunizations. I quickly learned that if you had a temperature she would not give you any shots. I usually managed to “think” my way into having a slight temperature elevation by the time she got around to me. Looking back on that, I realize what I took for granted was actually a pretty impressive accomplishment because my normal temperature is always considerably lower than what is considered “normal.”

So, I am entering this new year with an expectation or attitude of open-ended hope. Developing or renewing this skill will be an expression of the level of trust I have in God’s love. I hope that this open-ended hope based on trusting God is a concept my readers will find helpful. May God bless and keep you.