I experienced a slightly new perspective on the Welcoming Prayer recently that I thought might be worth sharing. I have heard the Welcoming Prayer presented in the context of integrating our Centering Prayer practices with our lives, in particular, helping us through what we usually think of as "negative" emotions or experiences. It certainly has much value in those areas. But it occurred to me that there may be much value to applying it also with some of the "positive" emotions and experiences as well.
Recently, I had a particularly good day and was feeling quite on top of things, I thought "whew – life is good, very good ... everything is just great!" Well, there is nothing wrong about feeling that way, of course, but it occurred to me that maybe even the good emotions can be rooted in the false self needs for power/control, esteem/affection and security, too. The "positive" emotions feel so very good, that there can be a tendency to try to structure one’s life energies around creating or prolonging them. If the roots of those experiences are in the false self, I imagine much disorder can happen as well, such as with addiction, neglect or lack of appreciation of other necessary things in our lives.
So one day I decided to try the Welcoming Prayer and invite God into my "good" emotions. I invited the awareness of letting go of power/control, esteem/affection, and security within my positive emotions of well-being and the feeling that I was "on top of things (i.e., everything was under "control"!).
Something very subtle started to happen. It may not be fully revealed to me in my lifetime, but seems to be an invitation. There is the typical intellectual understanding of the transient nature of the positive emotions which we all have come to know through our life experiences. Beyond that, however, I felt a much deeper awareness and acceptance of the moment and a willingness to allow it to come and to pass without the need to hold on to it. This subtle revelation was gentle and without shame – for I could accept, honor, and celebrate the goodness of the moment for what it truly was. I felt a momentary freedom to experience without the need to grasp or claim ownership or entitlement. Now the journey begins again and the lesson will take much practice. Whew, life is good, very good!
Julia Dady is a member of St. Matt's Centering Prayer Group in St. Paul, Minnesota.