Thursday, November 25, 2010

Simple, Not Easy...

Here is another brief excerpt from the project:

Jane Vennard says that “Centering Prayer is simple but not easy.” She aptly notes that due to our cultural attachment to productivity, we may get discouraged with Centering Prayer and feel that nothing has happened, and we may in the beginning feel more anxious after the first few sessions of Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer is like growing corn. When one seed is planted, it takes time before it germinates. It must rest in the silence of the earth for some time and the farmer must wait to see the benefits of his/her labor. Just as it takes time to develop an ear of corn, it also takes time to develop an ear of contemplation. According to Michael Casey, “Our contact with God is not immediately profound, but reaches profundity only after many years’ continuance. Therefore, our initial experience must necessarily be superficial, although at the time we could not realize this. The full benefits of revelation are not accessible to a rapid perusal.”

As Advent is soon to begin, I pray that it is a season of slow revelation for us all!

Happy Thanksgiving!!


Paul Corrigan said...

I'm grateful for your consistent posting, Mark. And amen to slow but real spiritual growth.

"our cultural attachment to productivity"--Sometimes this becomes compulsive for me, reinforced by the sheer force of habit.

It's not that I'm a workaholic or that I'm a bad person. It's that after so many years in school as a student and now after a few years in school as a student and as a teacher, my behavioral impulses have grown in step with the constant "important" deadlines I face.

If I do not keep up a certain rate of productivity, I will fall behind, and if I fall too far behind, I will fail at the good things that I am doing. Not falling behind brings a sense of satisfaction, while falling behind brings a sense in the direction of panic. So in some sort of Pavlovian sense, the sensations of productivity and non-productivity result in different now-automatic impulses.

So the system in which I operate is inherently neurotic-tending and unbalanced. I'm sure that the same is the case with people on other fields as well. (I won't, by the way, continue like this forever, since I won't always be a PhD student and won't always have young children in the house.)

So the phrase "our cultural attachment to productivity" hits the nail on the head. Our culture is not one that makes space and time, for instance, for siestas.

A long term commitment to centering prayer or some other silent grounding practice--something non-productive that connects us to God--is all more urgent because of the culture we are in.

living stones said...

Mark, thank you for this very important reminder that this kind of spirituality is a long-term process. I'm so grateful that we are traveling this path together and can support and remind one another of these kinds of dynamics!

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