Let Go, Let God
Centering prayer is an exercise in letting go. That is all it is. It lays aside every thought. One touch of divine love enables you to take all the pleasures of the world and throw them in the wastebasket. Reflecting on spiritual communications diminishes them. The Diamond Sutra says it all: “Try to develop a mind that does not cling to anything.” That includes visions, ecstasies, locutions, spiritual communications, psychic gifts. These are not as valuable as pure consciousness.
It is extremely hard not to reflect on spiritual consolations, especially if you haven’t had much experience of them. However, as you approach interior silence and are thrown out enough times, you begin to accept the fact that the grasping method won’t work. Don’t be discouraged or indulge in guilt feelings. Failure is the path to boundless confidence in God. Always remember that you have a billion chances. This God of ours is not crossing off anything on our list of opportunities. He keeps approaching us from every possible angle. He lures, draws, nudges, or pushes us, as the case may demand, into the place where He wants us to be.
— Thomas Keating in Open Mind, Open Heart
I was visiting a Pentecostal Church on Pentecost Sunday many years ago when the preacher shared a story and then challenged the people to do something quite profound. He said, “Each year I give away my most prized possession. It helps me keep my priorities straight. Do you think you can give away your most prized possession?”
I began to feel very uncomfortable as I rearranged myself in the pew. I thought to myself, “What is my most prized possession?” I immediately thought of my computer. I left the service a little disturbed because I knew I was unwilling to give it away. The following day a fellow I was sponsoring in the program of recovery called me and shared with me his vision. He wanted to write a 12 Step program that was based on scripture. I immediately thought of my computer. Billy didn’t have one so I stepped out in faith and gave it to him.
After he left, with computer in hand, my doubt started to creep in on me. I thought to myself, “How impulsive!” And then a peace overcame me. Three months later, Billy came to me with the rough draft of his book. It was then I knew I could give up my attachment to “things.”
What about you? Did this reflection make you feel a little uncomfortable? Can you give away your most prized possession to someone in need? Go ahead. Do it. 🙂
Love in Christ,
The writings of Fr. Thomas Keating are taken from Spirituality and Practice. The reflections are my own.
M.Rev. Ed Jansen is the Bishop of the Diocese of St. Benedict and Rev. Dr. Trish Gaffney is its Vicar General
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