There can be something deeply profound and moving about praying in community, and it has been playing on my mind recently.
Last week I went to the monastery on my day off just to sit and pray with the sisters. I was reminded how much rhythm is a part of their prayer. There are times to speak, time to listen to others speaking, times of silence to allow God to speak, and a slowing down from whatever we have been doing before, and whatever awaits us after. It’s a sacred time to pause and put God back at the center of our day…. Several times a day!
I am part of a monastic community that prays together on the phone, and this morning was a time when we found our rhythm in a beautiful way. Sometimes when we come together, people come from busyness, from distractions, from life. And this can carry through into our prayers. But at other times, like this morning, when we all set aside whatever else is going on, slow down, breathe, and sink into that pulse that feels like true God time, something beautiful is created. There are pauses, both between people speaking and each line they speak; there is attention to the words spoken and the silences; there is a harmony that crosses the miles between us, and a sinking in to the One who calls us Beloved. And I feel it in my body, a softening and opening and presence that I know will carry me through the day.
I often feel this world as a jagged and sharp place, and wonder what it would be like if more of us prayed together in community. Allowed ourselves this time of softening and pausing and re-setting and re-centering. And did it together with other people. The communal aspect feels like an important piece for it reminds us that we are connected, we all a part of the Body of Christ, walking through this broken world in kinship, given the eyes to see and the hands to help one another. For I have learnt that we cannot live in bubbles of isolation… the only way our world can heal is by us coming together, finding the living pulse that allows for listening and breathing and re-centering in the Divine.
Finding this rhythm takes attention and intention on the part of the pray-ers. It takes all of us to breathe into the space and listen to God’s heartbeat for our words and our cadence. It takes an awareness beyond ourselves. And all these things, too, are a part of creating a community of peace and hope and healing together.
Pope Francis says, “How good it is for us to pray together. How good it is to encounter one another in this place where we see one another as brothers and sisters, where we realize that we need one another. I need your support, your closeness (and you need mine). I would like to invite you to pray together, for one another, with one another. That way we can keep helping one another to experience the joy of knowing that Jesus is in our midst.”
I invite you to seek a community of prayer, even if it is just one other person, and find that rhythm of falling into the heartbeat of God, breathing with God, listening and speaking and re-centering on this One who love you…. And allowing that softening and widening awareness of the community around you, to happen over time, and pay attention to what happens!
I’ve been thinking recently about the surprising ways evidence of our healing journeys show up, both in witnessing other people’s growth and my own.
I have often butted heads with people in power over me…. And in the past I would find myself cowering and hurt in a corner, silenced by their abuse of power. But recently a different outcome happened and it took me by surprise.
I received an email from a person in power, someone who I have only had one conversation with, full of mistruths and a threat to future employment opportunities. But, worse than this, it hit me on several deep, vulnerable personal levels. I read through it and felt sick to my stomach. Then took a deep breath and said a little prayer and read through it again. My first impulse was to share it with a few people who know me, who have walked through some of my healing with me, who I trust deeply. And without a second thought, I reached out for help.
Now, to many of you, this may seem like an obvious next step. But for me, this was such an alien concept for so many decades, that, even as little as a couple of years ago, this would not have happened. I would have gone over it in my head, over and over, feeling hurt and helpless. And I would have just kept it to myself, allowing it the painful words to bruise and sink in and re-traumatize and create more pain. I may have even started to believe some of the lies. Instead I instinctively shared it.
I didn’t realize what a sign of healing this was for me until I reflected back on it last night. WOW. I thought. I would never have done that before. And while it did not take away the initial sting, in sharing I was affirmed, the abuse of power was named, and I felt like I was supported and known and loved.
I invite you to reflect on these questions… and feel free to share your responses!
What ways have you seen the hand of healing in your life?
Where do you respond differently to a hard situation than in the past?
What help do you need?
Who are your trusted people to turn to, ones who love you and know you and will tell you the Truth!?