Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Welcoming Practice

The Welcoming Practice has become my 4th core spiritual practice. My other 3 core spiritual practices are Contemplative Prayer, Praying the Scriptures, and Spiritual Friendship.

The Welcoming Practice is a surrender practice, a way of yielding the whole of our lives to God. The classic expression of this kind of practice is Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s book Abandonment to Divine Providence, also published as The Sacrament of the Present Moment, which is my favorite edition of it. We seek to respond to and work with the present moment instead of unconsciously reacting to it.

The Welcoming Practice is a way of extending Contemplative Prayer and Praying the Scriptures into the rest of the day. It is particularly used in situations which upset, frustrate, make us anxious, and/or throw us off balance. It is a way of recognizing the presence of God in these situations and of experiencing and yielding to the Holy Spirit in the midst of them. The practice involves 3 steps: (1) noticing and sinking into our feelings, thoughts, sensations, and commentaries, particularly as they are experienced in the body. Secondly (2), it involves welcoming the presence of God in the feelings, commentaries, or sensations in the body by mentally saying “Welcome.” And (3), it involves Letting Go (i.e., yielding everything to God) by mentally repeating the following sentences one time each: “I let go of my desire for security, affection, control” and “I let go of my desire to change this situation.”

This practice does not mean that we are always passive and yielding to the external circumstances themselves nor that the external circumstances may not need to be changed. It means we let go of our own agendas, our own timing, and our own interpretations. We fully surrender the circumstances to God and thus grow in our ability to sense and align ourselves with the Spirit’s presence and action in them. Having done this, we can then take appropriate action, which at times may involve protest or resistance. But whatever action we take, it is not merely mindlessly reactive or thoughtlessly self-involved. It is rooted in God, not in our egoic interpretation.

As with all the contemplative practices, the primary fruits of the Welcoming Practice are not experienced immediately but rather over the long-term. Gradually we become more peaceful, less reactive, and more effective in loving God and loving our neighbor.


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