One of these participants was Michelle Bohlen, who has practiced Centering Prayer for almost two years and attends a group at Colonial Church of Edina. Fortunately, she took notes and captured some of the wisdom Fr. Carl shared during the day, specifically those words that touched her most deeply. She summed up her Saturday experience this way: "It was a very good day."
Thanks to members of Minnesota Contemplative Outreach and to the St. Olaf Centering Prayer Group for making this "very good day" possible—and to Michelle for sharing the notes that follow:
Fr. Arico compared Centering Prayer to building a relationship, like exchanging marriage vows and taking time to get to know our partner. It has the characteristics of a permanent commitment no matter what the circumstances—for better or worse, in sickness and health, 'til death do us part. But even death will not separate us.
A study showed that people doing Centering Prayer have more activity in the 'relational' part of the brain. They have a sense of well being, a sense of closeness to God and more acceptance of their inadequacies. It’s the hand of God working in our lives. Resting in that place helps us realize there is no such thing as 'others.' God is everything. Everything in that place is God.
Put on the mind of Christ. Our mind is our worst enemy. Let go of thoughts. Centering Prayer is the time for God to read our hearts nd for us to shut out all other concerns. Be open to resting and let yourself be taken care of. "Lord, I do consent. I’m open to have you remove my excess baggage. I need your help to do it."
We are always loved by God and don’t have to earn it. God embraces us with two arms—one saying 'good job' and the other saying 'let go of the baggage.' Hanging out with our loved one gives us a special energy. But fidelity is important when you choose to hang out with your honey.
We don’t always know how to forgive. Sometimes we don’t want to. But today’s enemies could be tomorrow’s friends. Learn to release anger, disappointments, hidden resentments. Spontaneous forgiveness doesn’t require thought or judgment—just do it.
Let peace be a harbor for us. It is a very restful activity. Its opposite is to be judgmental, which is hard work. To forgive is to have a soft heart—one made of flesh. It will remove our heart of stone. Forgive our hidden past. Embrace the hurt. Have compassion for yourself and others.
Present our whole being to God. Give God permission to stick his/her nose into places we don’t want him/her to. Celebrate our basic goodness. Forgive the ‘them’ in us. It’s the one we build our stories around; the one we create in our own minds. Our stories are created around our baggage. Sometimes the feeling of being wronged is no longer about the present reality. Release it with love.