Growing up in a home with evangelical influences – this was an act with life and death consequences. Giving my heart to Jesus was a kind of life insurance. . .the kind I, as a child, could afford.
So there were a number of occasions, at night in bed, after being tucked in; when all the anxieties of a child in an unpredictable, unmanageable world – found some relief in double checking and redoing this transaction of giving my heart to Jesus. Just to make sure all the bases were covered.
And of course, all the bases were covered, because they always are! Especially when we find ourselves at any age, frighted, alone and uncertain. There is never any time or any place where God is not.
And now in my late middle age there has been another conversion experience which is reshaping my life. This one has to do with the practise of meditation.
For about 5 years, I have been sitting every day for 20 minutes in meditation. Along with this daily practise I have been reading, doing workshops with teachers from both the Christian and Buddhist tradition exploring questions like:
- What am I doing when I sit . . .?
- What is happening with my body and my mind?
- How does this practise connect to the drama of my life –feelings, desires, hopes, fears, regrets?
- How does it connect with the Christian tradition?
Thomas Keating, an American Catholic Monk, (1923 – 2018) started teaching Centering Prayer, a contemporary form of Christian contemplative prayer, in 1981. He was inspired by the arrival in the West of teachers and gurus from diverse Eastern traditions, to rediscover and reintroduce similar practises from within the Christian tradition. Cynthia Bourgeault, is one of his students and is part of the Faculty of the Center for Action and Contemplation.
When I first started practising Centering Prayer it was as if all best truths of Christian had a way to go from being intellectual propositions to lived reality. I realized that although I had been a person of faith all my life; in some ways, I had lived like none of it was true. I had lived like a virtual atheist – everything is up to me and I am the centre if the known universe i.e. mine?! Now of course this is not true but saying it starkly like that, helps me to express the change I have experienced.