Surrender

I spent much of the morning reading part of Cynthia Bourgeault’s book ‘Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening’. What struck me was her central point on surrender.

As she described some of the experiences of awakening which she clearly associates with the practice of centering prayer, I couldn’t help but identify. In the book she is clearly advocating the method which has led her to inner awakening which she clearly aligns with an apophatic spirituality. As a long time practitioner of cataphatic spirituality I wondered about this…

And then the penny dropped – it is the central pillar of indifference in Ignatian spirituality which potentially affords the same surrender. For me, that takes its form as a spiritual practice in praying for grace. For me, praying for a grace is the white flag of surrender. I have hit my head against the brick wall of reality and I know my will is not up to the task of changing either reality or myself. It is a space of compassionate honesty.

Any prayer method, any prayer school can become a barrier to the very thing we desire. Every method is susceptible to corruption by the ego. And in every method which has survived the test of time, there is wisdom.

This book is a gem – it cuts right through the present popular notion that to be ‘spiritual’ is somehow to be at ‘peace’ with the world. A crucial phase of the spiritual journey is confrontation of unconscious parts of the self. It is turbulent, confusing and profoundly challenging. Peace does ensue, but only when reality – as it actually is – is embraced.

Honesty and acceptance – two of the hardest things we can achieve – seem to be the key. I suppose the real surrender comes when I can say that the truth I think I perceive is not the whole the truth and I am willing to have my eyes opened so that I can begin to accept.

 

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