At the beginning of Lent, I downloaded Welcoming Prayer: Consent on the Go and committed to taking a few minutes a day to welcome “what is” in my life. If you have been reading my blog lately, you’ll know that hasn’t been easy.
In the morning after I had some time of silent prayer, I’d read a short chapter of the book and let the words guide me.
Feel and sink into what you are experiencing this moment in your body. . . Don’t think about it . . . The Spirit of God within invites us to just sink into it, feel it, welcome it and let it go. (28, 30)
Then I’d take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and notice what I was feeling and where I was feeling it in my body. Anger, disappointment, sadness and helplessness were frequent visitors.
As I sank into those feelings, judgment and blame often came to accuse me. I’d feel myself cower. Then I’d take another breath and remind myself that judgment and blame are not feelings. They are thoughts and I can ignore them. I am invited to welcome my feelings without thinking about them–without analyzing, fixing, or judging them or myself.
I’d greet my guests. “Welcome, Anger.” “Welcome, Disappointment.” “Take a seat, Sadness and Helplessness.”
I also welcomed the Spirit of God, loving me deeply and accepting me completely–just as I am now with these feelings about all that is going on in my life.
I’d take another breath and say, “I surrender to God’s loving action within.” That “within” meant within my feelings and circumstances.
Usually, in the letting go to God’s action, I’d feel a gentle shift in my body. A sense of calmness and hope would emerge. I could enter the day with more freedom.
This five-minute practice keeps grounding me in the reality that my transformation is received and not achieved. Often when a new self-awareness arrives on my doorstep and I discover how I’ve fallen short or my actions have hurt another, I feel discouraged. Stopping right there and then and welcoming that feeling of discouragement and inviting God’s loving action into it reorients me to God and others and away from being preoccupied with myself and how well I’m doing.
I’m reminded of what I learned from Anthony de Mello‘s book Awareness: It’s my job simply to notice. It’s God’s job to transform me.
The Welcoming Prayer is a deceptively simple practice. Simple–and powerful. We don’t try to fix, improve, try harder, or change anything. We simply feel, sink into, welcome God’s presence and action–and let go. This is the “how” of our transformation. With daily practice, gradual transformation happens and attitudes begin to change. We cannot transform anything on our own power. Instead, we turn everything over to God. This is our prayer for help. It is a prayer to be free, but in God’s own time and in God’s own way, not ours. (70)
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for God . . . You’ll be changed from the inside out. –Romans 12:2 (MSG, adapted)
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I love Anne Yungwirth’s photography. What joy to be able to share her pictures with you on my blog! I got to know Anne when I attended New Life Community Church. Anne and I were regular contributors to the church’s annual arts worship service. Anne continues to show me the many faces of God.