Here are reflections from four individuals who participated in United in Prayer:
From Mark Rodel:
This year I attended the event at Fairmount United Methodist Church in St Paul. The bright and open wood paneled gathering space of the church was very warm and welcoming and provided a comfortable setting where we began the morning reconnecting with friends we may not have seen in a while and introducing ourselves to new ones.
Following introductions and a session of Centering Prayer in the silence of the Sanctuary which was lit by a single candle and sunlight filtered through a stained glass window, we viewed a talk by Abbot Joseph Boyle from Snowmass Monastery where he spoke about the ever-present presence of God in our lives. The talk was followed by a short break and then small group discussions of Abbot Joseph's talk. The discussion was followed by a second session of Centering Prayer and the morning closed with a Blessing to see us on our way.
It was wonderful to see individuals from a variety of the many local prayer groups in attendance at the United in Prayer Day event. Opportunities for our many local Centering Prayer groups to come together as one community for fellowship and prayer are always a special joy to me and I am already looking forward to next year's United in Prayer Day event.
From Lynn Johnson:
The morning of March 16, I was warmly greeted at the door of St. Olaf.
My guide led me in quiet tones and finally whispers to the dark, quiet room, illumined in star spots by candles. Step by step I found myself preparing to sit.
In meditation I experience "Church" in quite a different dimension -- a deep connection to the community I sit among. Sister Joan graciously and slowly brought our awareness to her by allowing silence to drop into her invitation. Thank you to all who prepared the room, the contemplatives gathered there, the stillness ... the still point.
From Jody Johnson:
It was my birthday, and an unwelcome number was staring me down. Adding to the burden was the prospect of hosting a dinner party at my house that evening; not a birthday gathering but simply our turn in the rotation of our 'dinner group'.
I didn't think I had the time or inclination to attend an all morning contemplative prayer meeting. As it turned out, it was the best birthday present I could have given myself. I carried the "supported silence" with me throughout the day, and it gradually and subtly changed my experience from one of being burdened to one of gratitude. The afternoon hours somehow expanded into more than enough for preparation, and I went about my tasks unhurried. Soon, I began to look forward to the group's arrival. I am usually rather anxious in social situations, but I felt a calm underneath the flurry of activity in greeting people and getting things on the table. The 'dinner group' morphed into a birthday party, literally and figuratively, as I received a cake and gifts at evening's end, and I thanked my friends and my God for the abundance of blessings in my life.
From Daniel Altman:
I enjoyed very much being a part of the United in Prayer gathering last weekend. People came from all over the metropolitan area and the common denominator for all was the practice of centering prayer. Watching the DVD of Abbot Joseph was very entertaining. It was on using visuals to make one's point. He told a story, which may be fictional, of a mother who took her little son to a concert of the famous pianist, Paderewski. The boy wandered on stage and was playing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" when the curtain went up. The famous pianist came on stage to find the audience upset with the little boy. But he asked the boy to continue and sat at his side. Reaching his arms about him as he continued to play, Paderewski so embellished the piece that after twelve minutes the crowd stood up in awe and nonstop applause. It was a great morning and the hospitality was also memorable.
If you participated in United in Prayer this year, please share the blessing by telling others about it. If you were not able to participate this year, please consider joining next year's event. It is not too early to mark your calendar because United in Prayer is always on the third Saturday in March. Next year United in Prayer will be on Saturday, March 15. Locations and details will be announced on the Minnesota Contemplative Outreach website.