An Insight


by Martina Weber
Echzell, Germany

Six years ago I read a lot about the Welcoming Prayer and tried to integrate it into my then beginning Centering Prayer practice. It was a dark night of the soul period in my life: deep depression, a form of dementia that had come overnight triggered by a medication against my bipolar condition, and strong suicidal impulses. It just felt dishonest to pray “I let go of my desire for survival and security“ because I only had an overwhelming and pervading desire for non-survival, for my life to be discontinued. Still I accepted the advice of the contact person of Contemplative Outreach not to change the wording. That was ok with me.

In the meantime things have improved tremendously. I just went on day after day somehow (including Centering Prayer once a day, twice a day since last year) and my life has not only been richly blessed, but it also feels so. I could even give up taking lithium last autumn and my dementia disappeared in summer 2020 basically from one day to he next. My basic situation (job, family, friends, self-help group …) has remained unchanged, but there has been so much healing and development. I can feel happiness again and be present in the ups and downs of my life.

Not long ago I realized that my desire for death, for non-survival basically is a desire for security: for being safe from the challenges of life and my weaknesses, for rest and an end to the ups and downs. As Jane Gardam wrote in “The Man in the Wooden Hat“: [“Death] carried him back to the beginning of everything and to the end of all needs.” In my teens I had often felt the mystic desire to be like a grain of salt that dissolves in the sea, becoming one with it.

I am grateful that even though I didn’t feel God’s helping, guiding, sustaining in the darkest period of my life (there have been many others, but none comparable to that phase) I knew God was there and didn’t condemn me – not even for my condemning myself mercilessly and feeling intolerable.

I am glad God brought me back to real life.