God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. -Collect for Proper 12 B
For those of you familiar with centering prayer as a practice, you know one element of it is to choose a sacred word. This word is not a mantra repeated, but rather a word you use during your silent prayer to bring you back to your intention to open to God’s presence. One thing I love about this is it assumes your mind will wander. It’s what we are programmed to do. I love the Buddhist name for this which is “monkey mind.” Over time one can have longer periods when one is less distracted, but one can never perfect this kind of prayer. When I first started, one mentor said, “this will be excellent practice for you Beth, because you can never become successful at centering prayer.” Ouch. And yes!
My sacred word for my many years of practice has been, and remains, trust. I tried changing it one time and that became a whole new distraction to contend with. It has been a steady guide on my spiritual journey. Trust is one of the most difficult places to inhabit, especially in the “changes and chances” of this life. And yet, over time, seeds planted in silence can shift one’s grounding. I am not perfectly trusting – who is? And yet the more I say my prayers, the more I turn myself over to a loving God, the more I am able to trust. I not only trust God more, but that opens a space for me to trust other people. Yes, I’m still disappointed and hurt and I disappoint and hurt others, but there is more and more space for abundant life when I am less guarded and more trusting.
When I was in the search process here seven years ago, I used a chant during my discernment. It is on the prayer desk in my office. The words are “Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.” This has been a year where our wants and fears have been front and center. I pray we all have practices and relationships that allow us to grow in trust. We have God who cherishes each one of us and desires we live in a place of abundance rather than scarcity. It’s not about things, but about creating space to take stock and allow ourselves the deep rest God so richly offers.