Contemplative Surprise

When you can be present, you will know the Real Presence. I promise you this is true. And it is almost that simple.                 —Richard Rohr

Last fall my friend Ben Jamison asked me to speak at the Virginia Baptist Mission Board’s Spiritual Emphasis Day. (warning from WordPress’ Writing Helper: Open a blog with this sentence and you’ll lose half of  your readers.) This led to a collaboration with Randy Ashcraft, Drexel Rayford and Michael Sciretti to offer retreats and workshops on centering prayer and the contemplative life. (WordPress: There goes the other half.)

After a couple retreats and three workshops, we thought it would be helpful and fun to offer an evening of teaching and contemplative worship. The event happened in early August at Richmond Hill.

We expected 15 participants. 50 showed up.

Michael Sciretti Teaching Contemplation at Richmond Hill

A couple weeks ago at the annual meeting of Virginia Baptists in Roanoke, we offered a workshop called “Contemplative Baptists,” which promised instruction in centering prayer and an experience of contemplative worship.

Over 60 people attended, making it the largest breakout session of the week.

I was surprised at the level of interest in both events. Michael Sciretti was not. “People are hungry for this,” he observed.

This is instruction on how to connect with God. We teach the method of centering prayer (which I wrote about here) which is a core component of contemplative worship.

My friend John Upton once told me that when he was a pastor, he signed up for a silent retreat at Dayspring Retreat Center. He was carrying a double-handful of books up the hill to the lodge when he met Gordon Cosby for the first time. After brief introductions, Gordon asked John why he was carrying the books and John said, “I guess you could say that I’m searching for God.”

“God’s not that hard to find,” was Gordon’s reply.

Which takes us back to the opening quote: When you can be present, you will know the Real Presence. I promise you this is true. And it is almost that simple.

Centering Prayer is a practice that helps us be present to God by letting go of everything else.

When you think about it, is anything more important?

I’m learning people are hungry for this.

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2 Responses to Contemplative Surprise

  1. limabean says:

    Glad I can post again. (Ahhh, technology.) Anyway, enjoyed this, Sammy. Am planning to work on centering prayer myself.

  2. rvaym says:

    I really enjoyed being part of the breakout session and experiencing what you guys have been up to. It’s always a breath of fresh air to experience a little contemplative worship!

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