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What Centering Prayer Means To Me
My husband and I retired at the same time about six years ago and we came to Bend, Oregon “to live happily ever after.” Our children and grandchildren live nearby in Eugene and everything was supposed to work just perfectly for us, except that in my case, I didn't pay attention to several things that were happening around me and inside me.
One of them was that when that we sold our house in Louisville, it sold so fast that the move proved to be a very stressful event, for which I was not prepared. But it kept me too busy to think of other things, like I really didn't have a plan to make the transition from work to retirement.
In retirement, I found myself lost and without an identity. It was a great loss to find that all of a sudden so many of the props that held my identity upright were gone. I was no longer the teacher who loved and found fulfillment in her job; I was no longer the elder in a bilingual church with an important role to play; I was no longer living in a nice big house which had room for everything and more.
In the back of my mind, I had toyed with the idea of someday finding out who I really was, for I knew that these props would someday go away. Now I was there. Shortly after we arrived, my husband invited me to come to a Centering Prayer group that had been very meaningful to him when he was working in Bend. I attended, and even though I didn't get it for a while, something told me that it was important in my life.
While in the middle of the stressful move and trying to figure the “what now?” of my life, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wondered if this was the answer to the “what now?” Is this it? Is this the end for me?
At this low point in my life, Centering Prayer became my lifeline. It became my point of reference and, even though I still didn't quite understand it, at a deeper level I knew it was extremely important to me. To help me understand this and the ever-haunting question of “who am I,” I sought help from a spiritual director. Now, as I reflect back, I see how God in is his divine love and providence was guiding me through Centering Prayer and spiritual direction not only to discover who I am and my true identity, but also to reveal glimpses of deep joy and the desire to share it.
This path has opened me to learn from some of the people in my Centering Prayer group who are incredibly gifted teachers. It has directed me to read some of the mystics of our time and be deeply inspired by them. It has led me to wonderful opportunities for training on how to share Centering Prayer and then ensuing opportunities to share it with groups very dear to me in Mexico and Bolivia. On my birthday, I told my husband, “You know, it feels like this is a brand new life.” I am on this path of learning and continually surprised by the beauty of God's kingdom in our midst. It is very hard to explain this newness I feel, but one thing I am certain of is that Centering Prayer is my lifeline.