by Greg Hermann
“We need to practice for many years and make many mistakes in the
meantime to learn how to do this.”
Fr. Richard Rohr
Fr. Rohr is reminding us to practice prayer. But he is challenging us to pray beyond words. The challenge to me is to pray in silence: meditation, contemplation, stillness......... I can personally testify to the challenge because my mind does not want to be silent. My mind does not like stillness. My mind wants me beating myself about my past, and fearing the future. My mind knows that when I am silent, I AM in the present. I AM not afraid. I AM at peace. I AM all of those parts of being that the one who opposes Divine presence, who opposes Great Spirit, who opposes Higher Power – that opposite one wants me weak, isolated, afraid and ashamed.
Some of you hear me, over and over, talk about practice, practice, practice. We know how important it is to practice our athletics skills, our professional skills, our sporting or crafts or any skill that we want to improve. Why do we (I) find it so difficult to practice silent prayer?
Those of you who know me know how comfortable I am when I am speaking. I am the center of attention. I am in control. I, I, I, I, ad nauseam.
Silence is my practice of surrender.
Silence is my practice of asking for help.
Silence is my practice of listening.
Silence is my practice of allowing you to be you without my interference.
Silence is my practice of allowing God to be God without my interference.
Silence is my act of surrender.
I will continue my ardent effort to be silent, to meditate, to surrender.
Later in his writing, Fr. Rohr quotes a Christian scripture from Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4: 6-7
“Pray with gratitude and the peace of Christ, which is beyond knowledge and understanding, will guard both your mind and your heart in Christ Jesus”
Again, I am faced with a challenge in these words: I am expected to let peace guard my mind and my heart. I have to know peace well enough to be guarded by peace. For me, I know peace in stillness. I have to practice stillness and silence. Only then will the peace of my Higher Power guard me. Your peace will guard me. Your peace will assure me, strengthen me, and remind me that I am not alone.
Oh my! Oh my!
These are exasperating challenges.
Except for the glimpses I have received in the practice. Throughout my 20 or so years of practice, there have been glimpses of peace during which I hear you. I really hear you with your penetrating message of vulnerability. I sense the pain you share. I feel the joy you express. In these moments, I recognize the fruits of the practice.
Our connection is the fruit of the practice.
We bear great fruit.
Yes, we bear great fruit.
I AM grateful.