Monday, October 25, 2010

The Welcoming Prayer

What do you do when you don't recognize your own life anymore? When the screeching voice leaving the awful message on the answering machine--the message that will undoubtedly be used against you later--is your own condemning voice? Where do you put the anger that swells and dissipates only to surge again? Nothing makes sense anymore. I'm hollow on the inside. My heart is a numb fold of scar tissue.

My friend Joe suggested I try welcoming prayer. The name is so friendly sounding, isn't it? Welcoming Prayer! You half expect it to greet you with a grin, a pitcher of lemonade, and plate full of brownies. "Come on in here, girl, and talk to Jesus!" I wasn't quite sure exactly what the welcoming prayer was, so after some clarification from Joe, I googled, and found this on Busted Halo:

" history of the Welcoming Prayer is a little surprising. It’s not an ancient practice, though it’s an ancient idea. Mary Mrozowski of Brooklyn, New York — a practitioner of Centering Prayer and friend of Father Thomas Keating — developed the method. She was inspired by Abandonment to Divine Providence, an early 18th century spiritual work by Jesuit priest and spiritual director, Father Jean Pierre de Caussade. Father Thomas and others saw the value of her little method and over the years it has been supported, fine-tuned and expanded, within the community of people who practice Centering Prayer and beyond.
If you are struggling with a bad feeling, the power of this little method is that it offers a structured way to embrace and accept it, so you can release it and move on. There are three phases to the Welcoming Prayer. You might go directly from one to the next in a single, relatively formulaic prayer sequence. Or you might find yourself staying in one phase as it does its interior work. Using Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault’s labels, the three parts are:
  1. Focus and sink in.
  2. Welcome.
  3. Let go."
Let's just say, um, I'm struggling with a bad feeling, or twenty (thousand). And there's no sense pretending I'm not, because I am. And there's no sense hiding being a mask of piety. Nothing like the unraveling of primary relationships to strip you of pretenses. I didn't know I could feel such anger again. I knew it was possible once upon a time. I spent my thirties angry--the entire decade. But life was very different. I didn't think I'd revisit that level of existential pain again. I guess I was wrong about that. It may not be same stuff, different day, but lemme tell ya, different stuff, same feelings offers little consolation.

It's awful to sit with such terrible, negative feelings. They feel monstrous, like they'll devour me. To consider focusing on them and welcoming them frightens me. But maybe I'm giving them too much power. What is anger? Sorrow? Even humiliation? All of these I've felt before. And worse! All of them were feelings Jesus experienced as well. He isn't afraid of the either. Still, I resist. But it can't be worst than what I've got going on right now.


I'll let you know how it goes. And thanks for listening.



MaryAnn M said...

thinkin of you often...glad you are still writing and breathing...
will look up the Welcoming Prayer...
you are just SOUNDS like it might greet you and massage your neck for a while and let you relax a bit. (lemonade and brownies are the bonus!)
love ya

Bella Scarlett said...

Many years ago, a wise counselor told me that emotions were like tissues - use them and throw them away. You're a writer; pour them into journnaling. God will meet you in your grief. And on the practical side, take care of your body. Please try to eat, rest and exercise some. BTDT and I know it's so hard.

C. said...

Glad to see you're still writing and sharing despite what's going on. Hopefully the Welcoming Prayer and the writing will help get you through.

Heidi Renee said...

it is my prayer for you that you understand how truly welcome you are, just as your are friend. i am so sad for you. holding you in the light and asking god to meet you there and cradle you in his arms, big, strong muscly ones to protect you darling. i love you dear friend.

Dee Hines said...

Just think Jesus' lemonade would be sweet with no calories and His brownies will not make you gain weight. Jesus take da wheel