Thursday, October 23, 2008

SSU October 23, 2008

The time I spent this morning with the contemplative prayer group I am a part of for this module was probably the most profound time I have ever experienced in a group prayer context. You need to understand that contemplative prayer is not your typical petition/request sort of meeting that many of us grew up in. Contemplative prayer is a completely different animal. It's purpose is to encounter God in whatever ways God desires.

There are many ways to do that. Probably the most common is through scripture. This morning, in addition to scripture, we included a piece of music. After quietly waiting with Him in His word (Psalms 23) and the song, we took a time to share with the group the places He took us and the things He communicated to us.

Before each session, our spiritual director generally reminds us that we are to receive the things that each member of the group shares as a gift to us. In the past, I have experienced that to some degree but it was never more obvious or more profound than it was today. The stories of pain and healing, failure and triumph, weakness and fear were remarkable. They truly felt like gifts from the sharer. The vulnerability before the group was a gift in and of itself. The stories felt like treasures that were being entrusted to us for safe keeping. I really have no words to describe the privilege I felt to be present for the occasion.

An experience like that amazingly bonds you together. It seemed that there was some kind of divine linkage of hearts. I left the room a different person than I entered. I have been in and led many of these kinds of prayer times and have always been changed by the experience, but never so dramatically as today. The memories I take from today have become for me the stones of memorial, much like those gathered by Abraham, Issac and Jacob, erected to commemorate significant encounters with God.

In the second half of our meeting, we encountered God through events of our personal history. In our heart, we allowed him to take us to an event from our past, a remembrance of his choosing. Rather than us telling our story to Him or to others, we allowed Him to tell us our story from His perspective. What a remarkable thing to allow God to give you His perspective of an event or events from your life. Each of us is to allow that process to continue to unfold in our private times with Him over the next few days.

This morning's meeting was worth the entire trip to me. I believe the experience is a living experience and will continue to impact me into the future. The living God speaks living words to living spirits. I'm not sure what eternal life is, but if this isn't it it will do until it comes.

Quote of the Day
"Bearing the image of God is not just a fact, it's a vocation."
N. T. Wright The Challenge of Jesus

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