An excerpt from Rich Lewis’ new book, Sitting with God: A Journey to Your True Self Through Centering Prayer
I cannot imagine a better start to each day than a silent sit.
Silence is not empty. It is filled with God. When I practice centering prayer, I respond to the invitation to sit with God. When I center like Jesus, I say, “Not what I want, but what you want”. I sit in silence to be loved and healed by God. Silence creates a space for me to heal. The space created by silence and stillness helps me find my equilibrium, my center of gravity.
I sit in silence because it is a safe place to let go of my anger—and my guilt for this anger. I sit in silence to let go of jealousy, which is an obstacle to the release of my God-given potential. I sit in silence to let the Creator create through me, to let go and trust God. I sit in silence because I love God. I sit in silence to enter a journey that God and I travel together. Silence teaches me how to live.
Silence is not often thought of as a teacher. Most often our society refers to silence as “dead time.” What, if anything, can be special about silence? This is where a transformation has taken place in my life. I have come to see how precious silence is, how silence is God’s first language. As Thomas Keating and a number of other mystics before and since have stated, “Silence is God’s first language and everything else is a poor translation.”
Words do not always need to be said. In contemplative prayer we float in the ocean of God. You can’t sink because God will hold you. Thomas Keating wrote, “Contemplative prayer is the world in which God can do anything.” Our job is to enter and see what happens. We maintain a “beginner’s mind”—an openness that allows all our expectations to drop away. As Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki wrote: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the experts mind there are few.”
The heart of centering prayer is “consent”— consent to the presence and action of God in our lives. That is it! We do not need to make it complicated. Like the myriad contemplatives before us, we open to the presence of God in silence. We let God do the work. When we center, we let God take action within (Luke 17:21). If we open to God, God will become present, and when ready, God will act within. And we will take this action into our non-centering times of the day.
In a radio interview, Amos Smith mentioned that he has chosen his well and will dig there (as opposed to digging in several wells [traditions]). I feel the same way. I have chosen my well. It is centering prayer, and here I will dig. The silence of centering prayer is not escape from this world but rather prepares me to engage and fully live in this world. The deep well of centering prayer provides a foundation, which gives me the stability and solidity to carry out my life mission.
About our Guest Author: RICH LEWIS is an author, speaker and coach who focuses on centering prayer as a means of inner transformation. He teaches centering prayer in both his local and virtual community and offers one-on-one coaching. He publishes a weekly meditation, book reviews, and interviews on his site, Silence Teaches.
He has published articles for a number of organizations, including Contemplative Light, Abbey of the Arts, Contemplative Outreach, EerdWord, In Search of a New Eden, the Ordinary Mystic at Patheos, and the Contemplative Writer.
Rich has been a daily practitioner of centering prayer since June 1, 2014. Centering prayer has been so life-giving and life-changing that he feels compelled to share his journey with others who wish to learn more. Rich resides with his family in Ambler, Pennsylvania. Learn more about him at www.SilenceTeaches.com.