This is the final post in a four-part series on the four steps of Centering Prayer.
I was surprised to find the fourth step when I was rereading that card. It seemed to me not that important to spend a few moments in silence after my prayer period is up. In fact, when my official time is over I often stop immediately and get back to whatever I was doing before.
But when I don’t – when I do spend a few moments in silence between Centering Prayer and the rest of my life – what happens then?
What does the silence make space for?
Well, it allows for a smoother transition between contemplative and active sides of life. It allows me time to think about how beautiful this state of stillness can be.
But more than that, for me, it makes space for gratitude. I find myself saying to the Divine, with words or without, Thank you for that time together.
Sometimes the time budget only allows a few minutes for prayer. And those few are better than none. But when I can add a little more to the beginning and end of my prayer, allowing another few moments before and after, that’s what moves into the space. I pray in gratitude, and I pray for God to increase my desire to pray, to show me how beautiful it is, worthy of way more than just fifteen minutes. I pray to learn how to pray continually.
So not skipping this step becomes a way of reminding myself why I’m doing this anyway, and requesting the grace to keep on doing it.
Today’s 15 minutes of prayer: Spent in my bathroom, kneeling on the fuzzy orange mat. How undignified. And the house wasn’t silent and my prayer wasn’t perfect, but I did it, and it helped me breathe better through a nervewracking situation immediately afterward. Perfection is not the goal. Faithfulness is the goal. And faithfulness does lead to fruitfulness. Just a reminder to myself for the inevitable days when that seems less than obvious.