Monday, April 16, 2012

The Center Holds

    "Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold..."
--W.B. Yeats "The Second Coming"

I am an introvert; my mind is always busy.  It rushes and chatters, a waterfall over rocks, leaving me desperate for silence.

For something like seven years, I have practiced Centering Prayer, a Christian contemplative practice somewhat akin to meditation.  I have practiced, I should say, in hopes that some day I might get better at it, might access that mind-peace that so many claim they find in it.

To no avail.  Instead, I spend countless minutes chasing mind monkeys, and occasionally stumbling upon a smooth lagoon of soft waves and sweet breezes.  But only occasionally.

This morning was no better.  Amid the background noise of my darling hubby watching Sports Center in the next room, and my cat purring loudly at my side, I settled down for prayer.  The kitty then decided that my prayer period could only benefit from her methodically sticking her claws into my leg as she kneaded my thigh.  Finally, fascinated by some video or other on the computer, my loving partner began to blast some sort of mechanical noise over the murmer of the TV.

I could only laugh to myself and attempt to refocus.  Surely, Lord, you are in the midst of things falling apart.

I felt the prayer period was a mega-fail.  I spent more time refocusing than focusing.  Just how was I to meet God when I could not even hear Him?

Oh, well, try again next time, right?

And I headed off to work.  I was surprised to find, though, that the time of day when I usually start to get a bit frazzled, hadn't arrived quite on schedule.  I kept looking over my shoulder, expecting it to appear any moment. 

But it did not.  By the end of the day, when I checked my state of mind (this only sounds strange if you've never taught in an elementary school classroom -- you do not have time to check your state of mind during the day!), I dipped deeply into a clear calm in the core of my soul.

And where did that come from?

Many teachers of Centering Prayer say that there is no "wasted" prayer session.

Perhaps they are right, after all?

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