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Spiritual Growth: Prayer and Meditation

In a previous posting, Musings-  God and Chicken Soup, I mentioned that I had been involved in presenting a workshop about prayer and meditation.  I use both of these activities/tools to help me through each day and to develop my spiritual growth through relationship with the God of my understanding.  There are many people in my circle of friends who also pray and meditate and because we recognize that there is a growing hunger for the Spirit, we decided to put on the workshop.

We had an ordained minister, Amy, who agreed to talk about using prayer in every day life and to explain how powerful prayer could be in developing a spiritual life.  We also had another person, Martha, who teaches meditation and who leads meditation groups.  She agreed to “demystify” meditation and demonstrate how simple it is to practice.  She also agreed to lead a guided meditation for the participants of the workshop. The plan then was to have a panel of three people, myself included, who would share their personal experience with prayer and meditation.

As people began arriving I was aware of a growing sense of anticipation.  Our small workshops usually attract forty to fifty people.  The room began to fill and I realized very quickly that we were going to have a bigger crowd than usual.  This was more than exciting because the kind of people filling the seats did not look particularly “spiritual” (as if I could describe what spiritual looks like!!).

The room was almost full and, just before opening the workshop, one of the volunteers mentioned that he had given up counting heads after seventy five.  I found this to be very heartening.  This many ordinary working people wanted so much to hear about prayer and meditation that they were willing to give up a few hours on a Saturday afternoon to do so.

We began the workshop with an opening prayer followed immediately by a short, ten-minute skit.  (We have learned that relaxing the audience with some humor at the beginning and feeding them some good food at the end is always a winning combination!)  So after some good laughter, we then introduced Amy.  Her talk on prayer was simple and straightforward.  She shared from the heart, from her own personal experience, and from her perspective as a chaplain guiding her flock.  She was well received.

Martha followed this with a basic but very dynamic talk about meditation and it’s use in every day life.  As I listened I also glanced around to see how this “motley group” was receiving the information.  Faces were focused in rapt attention and I was reminded of why we had wanted to put on this workshop.  The average Mr. Smith and Mrs. Jones are seeking a relationship with God.  They are on a quest to find a spiritual path that will satisfy the hunger of the soul and fill the void that all the material things in life just do not fill.

Martha segued into a guided meditation by first having the lights dimmed and then lighting a candle.  She also played some very soft music in the background.  Then in a quiet but steady voice she invited us into a place of quiet and led us on an internal spiritual journey.  Even as I focused on my own spiritual experience in that moment, I was also very aware that there was an intense quiet in the room, the kind of quiet in which you could hear a pin drop.  There was no uncomfortable shuffling or shifting in chairs.  Just a total peaceful quiet.

I felt so joy-filled in the moments following the end of the meditation.  This is what we had worked so hard for: the chance to give the ordinary man and woman in the street the opportunity to experience the calm, the tranquility, and the peace of mind, heart, and soul that comes through prayer and meditation. After a short break we returned to the room and ran our panel.

To illustrate my personal experience with making time for prayer and meditation in my life I shared from one of my meditation books that I use every day.  The title is Quiet Moments in the Presence of God, which is published by Bethany House.  As I read some of the reflections that were themed, Be Quiet, Rest Up, and Always More, I looked out at the sea of faces and realized that they were hanging on every word I was reading and saying.  I felt the awesome presence of Spirit in that moment as S/He touched all those hearts.  I felt humbled to be an instrument.

But the best was yet to come.  After dinner was served and people went home and the room emptied out, I was sitting at table finishing my food when a woman came up to me.  She was someone that I would label a “down-and-outer”.  She was shabbily dressed and had grey stringy hair and it was fairly obvious that she was “not very bright”.  She looked me intently in the eyes and said, “when you talked, I listened”, and she smiled.  I was stunned into silence for a moment, then said, “I’m glad, thank you”.  Continuing to look intently into my eyes, she then said, enunciating each word slowly and carefully, “I liked that book you read, I’m going to find that book”.

It is in moments like this that I truly feel the presence of God.  It is in moments like this that I think, this is my mission – to bring a God-moment to this woman.  And in doing that I experience my own God-moment.  I may not be an international circuit speaker.  I may not be famous.  But I am rich beyond belief when I am given the precious gift of moments like that.  I am completely soul-satisfied.                    

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