Editor’s Note: Lilly Lewin is traveling still, and would like to introduce us to her friend and collaborator Archie Honrado!
This painting invites us to pause deeply and try to see beyond what is being shown.
I was about to write this article when I heard about the Supreme Court Draft Opinion on Roe v. Wade leaked to the press. My knee-jerk reaction to this news was determined by my politics and theology on abortion. Someone in me wants to say something different; I went to my prayer practice called Welcoming Prayer, but at first I was not aware that I was allowing my Welcoming Prayer practice to steer my reaction. I didn’t even realize this when I wrote the first draft of this article. This welcoming prayer helped me consciously to not go into my politics, my cultural constructs, or even in my theology. Instead, I could go to my heart on this divisive issue or any issues.
But, wait, our hearts are formed by our culture, politics, theology and other things of this world, right? Yes, we are the fruit of the world we live in, but even at our best self, this person, the old Adam, our false self, as Fr. Richard Rohr would say, is still just the best version of our false self. There is a mysterious heart in us. It constantly passes ephemerals and moves into the true center of our being, our true self – the beloved one of Christ.
This mysterious center (where our false and true self lives) is our heart, mind, and soul united in Christ. There is an inner mystic-self in all of us where a Philippians 4:8 way of seeing lives. This way of seeing is like a seed planted in us but unless cultivated and worked on, it will lie dormant.
To crack this dormant seed, we have to listen to our unconscious (the depths of the soul if you will) so our minds can be nudged to welcome what movement the conscious-self is going through and be open to give praise, and glory to Jesus.
To make my way to my unconscious, first, I have to stop by the door, stand on the ‘Welcome Mat’ to welcome my emotions and thoughts that exist in my consciousness and be indifferent (suspend my reaction) towards my impending judgment and my opinion on the issue at hand. This welcoming posture takes me into a thin place. This thin place is a bit different from a thin place where the presence of God can be felt so close, this thin place is a place of holy tension- imagine Jesus sorrowful in the Garden of Gethsemane. To be in this thin place, this liminal space is to practice kenosis, (dying to self, or Jesus saying: “not my will be done but yours”) and to be aware of the Presence of the Holy.
This process of discernment, indifference, and welcoming I mentioned are practices I’ve learned from Ignatian spirituality and the contemplative Welcoming Prayer teaching. Here’s a Welcoming Prayer practice to try: (condensed from Cynthia Borgeoult book: “Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening”, 2004, Cowley Publications)
Here’s the simple Welcoming Prayer process:
- Focus and Sink in
- Let Go
Let’s work on Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade issue:
- Focus on what upsets you about this issue, feel the sensation in your body, or your emotions. Do you feel angry, fearful, disappointed? Can you feel present to these emotions, how are your emotions manifesting – jaw clenched, stomach in knots, breath short?
Don’t try to change anything, just stay present without psychoanalyzing yourself, lest you risk repression.
- Welcome– Be ready for this seemingly counterintuitive instruction. Focusing on your emotion, you are now steeped in roiling emotion and yet, you begin saying: “Welcome anger” (or whatever the emotion is), by welcoming the emotion we create an atmosphere of inner hospitality. This is where awareness and surrender converge, at the center of your being where we are united with Christ. This is the space aligned with Christ and your centered self, where you can decide what you will do with your issue at hand and you will be doing it from consciousness, not reactivity. Remember what we are welcoming is not the issue itself but the feelings triggered by the issue.
- Let Go- Take your time on this step. Gently go back and forth to the Focus and Welcoming steps until you feel some tenderness arising, then you say a “letting go” for now on whatever emotion arose or what decision you made about the issue. Finally, Say Mary Mrozowski* prayer at the end of the third step:
I let go my desire for security and survival.
I let go my desire for esteem and affection.
I let go my desire for power and control.
I let go my desire to change the situation.
*Mary Mrozowski created the Welcoming Prayer found in Cynthia Borgeoult’s book “ Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening”
Evelyn Underhill, the great 20th-century English mystic introduced the idea of practical mysticism. Underhill’s insights and her prophetic voice reverberates today in our world. Evelyn Underhill lived between two horrific world wars that gave her the courage and stamina to walk the darkness of the soul believing that the way to see and to be human does not end in the dark.
This darkness we are now familiar with is light, like Underhill, we are facing the same walk in the dark and the same hope that invites our faith to be awakened. Why is practical mysticism needed today? There’s a deluge of self-help ways that carry the same proposition as the mystics offer, but the Self-help movement’s promise of finding one’s authentic true self comes up short. Today’s self-help way of seeing leads to a dark tunnel that appears to be a dead end. With self-help no matter how much we try to live our authentic true self, if we are unaware of this thin and dark place, the soul’s journey will be like a walk into a dark tunnel that appears to come to a dead end. Then, it may appear that I only existed in my false-self, and conceivably reaction to issues that arise at a given moment would be pure human instinct leaving the divine breath living-in-us out. Can you imagine what that would be like? And, yes, there is a way of seeing and being in such a thin, dark place where darkness is light, where darkness becomes Light.
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Archie Honrado is a spiritual director, prayer retreat guide serving urban youth workers and a certified substance abuse counselor. Archie was part of Youth Specialties Soul Shaper Board and Soul Care Team together with Lilly Lewin. Archie and Lilly for over a decade have collaborated and co-curated prayer sacred spaces for the National Youth Workers Convention. Archie lives in the Redwoods, the land of Yurok Indigenous people in Northern California with his beautiful wife and two young boys.
Featured image is “Scratch” by Sandpaper, used under CC-YB. Image was resized and cropped. As an Amazon Associate I receive a small amount for purchases made through appropriate links. Thank you for supporting Godspace in this way.
Pause for the Day – find a pleasant focus in this downloadable set of prayer cards inviting you to pause and restore. This set of ten prayers include three morning, three evening and four general prayers for the day. Each prayer is paired with a photo to help you focus and enter into that still place where you can hear God’s voice. On the back of each card is a short reflection or activity to deepen the impact of the prayer. This is a downloadable pdf. You may also enjoy its companion set of Prayers for the Day – 11 more prayers by Christine Sine paired with beautiful imagery by Hilary Horn.