[Recording located at end of post]
Sunday’s formal message in worship focused on how to center, as Quakers say, meaning to sink deep into listening for Spirit. I am certain it was prompted by a conversation the week before among a lively group of experienced worshippers and newcomers trying to figure it out. It was a blessing and reminded me that it had once been difficult for me, too.
Something had primed me for Sunday and it took no time to slide in to that space where I heard the minister’s words, they registered, but I could smile and know I was somewhere else. A breathy giggle arose when the minster talked about being “occupied by spirit.” I already was – gratefully.
A three-hour astrological reading Friday, I am certain, prepped me for the hour of worship. That may sound like heresy, but it’s not. The female voice on the other end of the line holds a Ph.D from Yale; she’s no quack. I’m still combing through the 50 pages of notes, assimilating and responding. Recorded disks will arrive shortly, but I can’t wait. Basically, she confirmed my spiritual connection, intuition and ability to transcend my interior. That’s why worship comes easily. A dozen years of practice also doesn’t hurt.
One of my gifts, I have sensed and the astrologer confirmed, is having these experiences and being able to communicate them.
I understand there are as many ways to respond to God as there are individuals, so I don’t claim mine is the path for everyone. But, at least, I have the ability to explain how I center. I have also meditated and it is far more than that. It is an emptying, but also a refilling of Spirit. For me meditation always stopped short of that. Here’s my method:
Closing my eyes, I visualize that I ampeeling back the layers of my heart, one by one,clearing away distraction and thought.Think of peeling thin, fragile and translucentonion skins, attempting to reach the core.Following my breath, I let it plug my braininto my heart instead of the opposite,
as when I am conscious in regular, livingmode. I imagine a place in the back of my heart,a rather secret compartment, between myshoulder blades. When I reach it, I shudderwith a particular sensation, unlike any other …a kind of healing that carries a sharpness, an alertness,so I am not quite melting into it. There is a fine distinctionbetween it and surrender. Untapped energy resides here,lulling me into a relaxed attentiveness of being completelyhere, but also aware of what’s transpiring around me.It resembles that state between dreaming and waking.I can listen, but be deeply present. It’s a restorative place,
much like laying my head in Spirit’s lap as I do incentering prayer. To arrive in this spot, I must
intuitively feel my way in, locate the back door,the one behind my heart and empty myself, surrendermyself. That means quieting my brain, letting it rest, sothat my soul arises to meet God within.
Oh, and when I can do this, REALLY do this (well, when grace is at work), I am so at peace, feeling the bliss, the unity of love. This is a wonderful state. On occasion, there is more as there was Sunday. I am transported back to an ancient, timeless realm. Images arise, mostly fragments and flashes, a sort of message that will take some time to assimilate. I had four of those:
• A small group of shepherds or gatherers, crouched together under cloaks inside the mouth of a cave, waiting.
• Two weathered stone tablets broken apart with symbols or numbers and an inked heart torn at the break, half resting on each tablet.
• A folk icon of Jesus, crudely rendered, laying on its side on a piece of wood with wings, floating away.
When I quickly sketched these images on a church bulletin, the mouth of the cave became the thumb and index fingers forming the opening with the wrist and hand extending back. A rough translation, which means nothing to me right now is:
people are waiting in God’s hands, as spirit is freed, the secret of the heart revealed as the image of Jesus is no longer needed. I sense a freeing spiritual energy that’s not slave to tradition.
• How do I worship?
• What methods do I use to listen to God?
• What helps me center?
• Can I find where God resides within?
• How has practice helped?
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