An Inward Gesture Instead of Sacred Word

Q:  In Centering Prayer, when you have noticed that you are engaged in a thought, rather than return gently to a sacred word, is it okay to instead, just simply let the thought go? And let that movement of letting go, be it, in itself? I find I let the thought go, and then the return to the sacred word is almost like another step. An unnecessary step.

I have had a hard time putting the use of the sacred word into practice. As it just feels like another thought to me. And even after many attempts with different sacred words, I haven’t been able to find one that feels “right” or true to the deepest intention in my heart. So my question is, is it okay to replace the sacred word with an inward gesture of simply letting go and leaving it at that? Or is there an important aspect to the return to the sacred word that I am missing?

A:  Just continue to do what you are doing using a gesture of simply letting go and leave it at that. I remember a charming example:  if you have arrived at your destination there is no need to buy a ticket – you are already there. Repeating the sacred word would be like buying a ticket. The sacred word, or gaze or breath is a symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action and a means of letting go of thoughts, etc., that you are engaged with. If there is no engagement, then there is no need to use it. You are there.  What is there? You have let go already.

David Frenette‚Äôs book, The Path of Centering Prayer:  Deepening Your Experience of God would be an excellent resource for you.

Fr. Carl