Be still and know that I am God.
Centering Prayer is a Christian practice of silent meditation. Though we may tend to think of prayer as ‘talking to God,’ the practice of Centering Prayer reveals that it can equally be a simple, faithful opening to God’s love and presence. Releasing all thoughts, words, and images, we return again and again to silence, 'God's original language.' (St. John of the Cross). Though this form of prayer has its roots in ancient and medieval times, it was in the 20th century that a group of Trappist monks developed the specific form of the prayer that we use today, and one of them, Fr. Thomas Keating, established Contemplative Outreach, an organization devoted to teaching and promoting this prayer-form and related practices worldwide. Through this practice we seek to empty ourselves, as Jesus did, and to 'put on the mind of Christ.'
At First Churches, Centering Prayer is offered twice weekly and is facilitated by Kathryn Argetsinger, our Lay Minister of Contemplative Practices. At each meeting we practice both Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina, a meditative approach to reading the Scriptures. Meetings last approximately one hour and include time for group members to share any insights or prayers arising from their practice, if they wish to do so. All are welcome; if you have never done Centering Prayer or other forms of meditation previously, you may wish to contact Kathryn prior to attending so that she can offer some basic instruction.
In addition to our weekly meetings, we hold silent retreats when possible. Full-day sittings and retreats allow us to dive into our practice much more deeply than we are able to do in the course of a short period of meditation. Through silence and the gentle, continual return to the present moment over the course of many hours or days, our minds are able to settle and our hearts to open in new ways. In addition, retreat gives us opportunities for 'moving practice'--walking, eating, and working in mindful silence.