Second Sunday after Pentecost
Matthew 6:6, 25-34
©2021 Rev. Dr. Elisabeth R. Jones
Centering prayer can take many forms, including the centering we do
to bring body, mind, and soul into focus for a time of worship.
It’s simple enough to do for yourself, using your anatomy to guide
your focus, from the earth from which we’re formed…
our hands, our breathing, our heartbeat, our head,
so that opening our eyes at the end, we can re-enter the world
grounded, centered, calmer.
There was a moment yesterday when I was completely
derailed by clattering chatter and “shoulding” and “oughting”
and “scandalmongering” so damned endemic
to our fretful world right now and which tries repeatedly
to invade the sacred spaces of community and of God’s good earth.
I know I am not the only one to have been derailed most the week
by the number 215,
knowing that for each of those cherished children of
God, and of indigenous parents,
there are uncounted others yet to be found and grieved.
This last year of reckoning with the legacy of white
supremacist sins against black, indigenous, queer bodies,
who among us is not agitated,
rightly de-centred from the grasping securities of privilege,
but at a loss as to how to make amends
to re-centre life itself in the reconciling Dream of God,
all while such important concerns
that jostle with the personal troubles
we also need to bring to God,
of health scares, the burdens of care-giving,
job loss, exhaustion.
Confession, most of us come to God,
or avoid coming to God, because our prayers
are loud, scattered, noisy, or tongue-tied,
This is where centering prayer
is a God-given gift.
To do as Jesus said,
to take ourselves away from the noise
to listen and talk with our Abba,
our Source, End and Centre.
For me, most often centering happens like this:
To stop my feet, slip off my shoe,
feel grass, or cold floor under my toes…
to rest my hands… to close,
or to focus my eyes…
Here…. feet on the lawn, watching an ant
climb over a peony bud, listening to a robin sing,
the thud of a neighbour’s basketball,
feeling the breeze,
hearing it shuffle through the leaves…
Prayer is simply being present,
requiring not a word from me.
or creation’s sounds,
are a symphony created by my Creator to reconnect my soul,
to the soul of the universe,
where the travails of today slip back
into an eternal perspective
of God’s unfolding, unending
reconciliation of Creation within and beyond time.
You’ll find a guide to this form of prayer
that ANYONE of any faith can do, any time.
Reading from the Tradition Thich Nhat Hanh
I want to share one more way to shape
a moment or 10 of centering calming prayer
with 4 stones.
This is from a Children’s book by the Zen Buddhist
Thich Nhat Hanh, called A Handful of Quiet
Sit in a comfortable position.. back straight, yet relaxed.
Notice your breathing….
Pick up the first stone.
Breath IN OUT
a couple of times,
then as the stone warms in your hand,
think of a flower…
Breathe 10 times
- This pebble is water.
Breathing in… you are still water….
breathing out… you reflect things as they are
4.It is air/space
Where Spirit soars, blows,
where fireflies dance
the carrier for birdsong and children’s laughter
the silence of space beyond our little blue dot.
And one more way to ground and centre,
for so many is music.
Some it’s picking up the guitar, or playing a heat-known piece on your piano,
or humming.. or for many of us, listening.
Maybe you have that one song that does it for you…
Aretha Franklin, Cecilia Bartoli,
a Gregorian Chant,
a Drum Song,
a Rock anthem.
Doesn’t matter what.
When we are without words, without peace,
without hope…. is it a song that pulls us back
from the edge towards the centre?
Let’s see, as the choir centres
in this not quite wordless
grounding of self and soul in all that is holy.
Sit, listen, close your eyes, look around,
watch the images… whatever it is that
draws you back to the centre, to God.