From Exile to Hope: October 27, 2022

From Exile to Hope: October 27, 2022

October 27, 2022

How the Contemplative Prayer Group Goes

By: Rev. Dr. Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon

I have taken to writing a poem for my contribution to From Exile to Hope. This time the poem emerged from my biweekly contemplative prayer group. I have been meeting in this circle on Zoom since the lockdown began. My college roommate, who is my chosen sister, invited me to this group which includes people from all over the United States. Amongst us are a Lutheran pastor, two United Methodist pastors, an Episcopal priest, a Catholic priest, a former Catholic priest, a retired Presbyterian pastor, a school teacher and a retired engineer and math teacher.  During each gathering we name what we are carrying into the space; we share a guided imagery together, taking turns leading; after the meditation, we focus on each member of our circle, lifting prayer, images and feelings evoked in our attention to the person.  During our last gathering one of our members said, “sometimes in these times I wonder who I am” which led to responses from our group. Surely, in these days there is dislocation and searching as we emerge from the lockdown and ask ourselves for guidance in our destiny.  The poem I share with you reflects my memory of some of our prayerful conversation on this question.  Light and grace to you, Mary. 
How the Contemplative Prayer Group Goes
We gather in word and in silence
when Elizabeth asks, “who am I?” –
“It came to me in a prayer”, said Frank.
“When you asked that question 
those who loved me appeared”.
I thought: “that is who I am too: I am what those who love me love”
and I thought of those who love you, and how you are
what those who love you love. 
How I’ve loved you: all those names I say 
in the quiet of my heart, over the many years,
each signifying a spirit that lifts and rises
and places a calm hand 
on the forehead of this fevered world.
The prayer wheel holds us,
knows us in Spirit and in Truth.
During the lockdown I’ve been praying
with Elizabeth and Frank, Donna and Vicki,
Stacey and Mary B, Luke and Paul.
And maybe so many more
as the ones who love them appear
and the ones who love me
and the ones who are loved by us.
The entire world; the oceans and mountains,
the trees and prairies, insects,
animals and the fish. A galaxy of stars. The souls.
This, too, is prayer: the appearance of those who love and all that is loved.
The felt sense. The presence. And the Passion of God who heals and holds us.  
(Mary Bellon 2022)

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