Understanding God When We Try Not To
Centering prayer is a personal and unique journey. We each start where we are and enter the Mystery. When we center, we let go of all preconceived notions. We let God be God. We cannot define God; when we try to do so, we end up with something dead and unhealthy, an idol! We can only open to God.
We best understand God when we try not to understand God. This goes back to having a beginner’s mind. We maintain a posture of openness. We let go and admit that we don’t know. We simply trust. We leave our “small mind” and enter the “larger mind.” We die to our self. Cynthia Bourgeault wrote, “Dying to self means being willing to let go of what I want (or think I want) in order to create space for God to direct, lead, and guide me into a truer way of being.” We die to what the world tells us we need. When I practice centering prayer I move from “let go” to “let be.” I let myself “be” with God.
Love is a word that is tossed around a lot in our society. Mystics of old, like Maximos the Confessor, saw the Love experienced in prayer as the highest Love—as a holy state of the soul, which values knowledge of God above all created things. We can’t remain in this Love as long as we are attached to anything worldly. I must let go if I want to behold this Love. I let go of all things that engage my senses: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, in order to open myself to God who is ultimately beyond the senses.
Rich Lewis is an author, speaker and coach who focuses on centering prayer as a means of inner transformation. His book, Sitting with God: A Journey to Your True Self Through Centering Prayer (288 pages) is available now.
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