Every Tuesday morning, I rise from my bed in St. Paul, MN, shower, dress and head out the door to cross the river to north Minneapolis and attend Centering Prayer at St. Jane House. Every Tuesday morning, no matter how much sleep I’ve gotten the night before, I wake with a full heart, enthusiastic for this ritualistic way of starting my day. Like the Visitation Sisters themselves, who start each day in community, in prayer, I join a faith circle — this one convened at the Sisters’ neighboring Spirituality Center named after their co-foundress, St. Jane de Chantal. Here, I feel the spirits and stories and prayerful intentions of those gathered and those convening all over the world in prayer. In a word, it’s “awesome.”
We begin each centering prayer session with simple instructions. As the co-founder of this group, Visitation Companion and manager of St. Jane House, Brian Mogren gets us started each Tuesday with the following words:
In Centering Prayer, we express our intention to be in faith and love with God who dwells in the center of our being. We take up a sacred word and let it be gently present, supporting our being with God in faith-filled love. It’s a symbol of our intention to be with God in prayer. Whenever we become aware of anything else, we simply, gently return to God with the use of our prayer words. At the end of our 20 minutes of meditation, we close with “Our Father” said very slowly.
Brian then recites a poem or psalm or invites a fellow meditation participant to read us a passage from the bible, before he rings the singing bowl. One of my favorite texts included here is “Be Still and Know that I am God.” Brian will repeat this, shortening it each time, “Be still and know” to “be still” to just “be.”
“Be Still and Know that I am God.”
On this most recent Tuesday, the word, “be” became my sacred word that guided me in prayer. For twenty minutes, I found myself returning to an ecstatic space of love, joy; I was present with all of creation; I was simply trying to “be.” The laundry list of my life’s to-dos fell away, as I relaxed, with community around me simultaneously attempting this radical goal of silent presence, and I acknowledged the love welling up in me.
I have a recurring “vision,” if you will, during my prayer times where a radiant white light streams in a star pattern, connecting the hearts of every person gathered, with all of the stories of ancestors and loved ones that accompany them; this light intersects in the center of our room and reminds me that I’m not alone in my silence, in my surfacing prayers and intentions.
After twenty minutes of intentional quiet, complete with all the natural sounds of an urban neighborhood, the singing bowl rings again, and participants are invited to now give voice to their prayers.
Brian has a special way of inviting these intentions, too. He says something about how we join our intentions with those on the lips and in the hearts and minds of people all over the world. It always gives me pause, and reminds me how sacred this activity is, and how connected we all are, no matter where we stop to pause and “be present.”
What prayer and meditation practices are most life-giving for you?
Who do you share your heart with?
What person or group of people nurture your prayer or contemplations?
How does God speak to you and remind you of your beloved nature and calling?
I invite you to join me on any given Tuesday for Centering Prayer at St. Jane House. Doors open at 7:30am. Blessings!