I have just come to the end of a two year spirituality course. Centering prayer is the method of prayer most strongly endorsed by the leaders of the course. My own formation has been in Ignatian spirituality – a very different lineage and method.
The immersion in the course taught me that both these systems are good. Both lead to encounter with God, both lead to deep inner transformation.
In a sense this is a pluralist view – there are many paths and all paths may be good.
But in recent weeks this has shifted to a more unitive position. For us as humanity to get a full sense of God the different paths are not simply good, they are necessary. I, as an individual, cannot walk all the paths. I will always favour one method over another, but for the glory of God to be revealed we need people to walk different paths. Between us we have the revelation of God.
For the whole to be revealed, I must be true to my path, you must be true to your path, and we must learn to have a conversation.
Diversity is necessary and we need to learn how to engage with deep curiosity about the gift the other has been given through following their path.
The symphony requires each instrument to be true to their part.
The idea of exploring our past to come to some kind of inner healing is not that old. Depending where you are in the world, it is probably only those who are just now becoming grandparents who really began to explore in a systematic or therapeutic setting how the past has shaped them.
That process tends to follow a similar pattern to grieving – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
We seem to be at a new phase now where we are having to face into the way the past has shaped us collectively. We seem to be caught in a perpetual loop of denial and anger. For some the pain is too evident to deny and the anger drips from every word. For others, the individual response – ‘I wasn’t there’, ‘It wasn’t my action; my choice’ predominates.
The question I have is how do we learn to move through all of this as a society together? Each country, each community has its own pain. This is work for humanity. This seems to me to be the work of the 21st century. Who will be our leaders?
Over the last year there have been three instances where I have been blessed with low expectations. I know that we are accustomed to thinking of that in a negative sense. But what I am trying to convey is that I have been willing to simply show up and let the experience and interactions unfold as they may.
The three instances I call to mind are all significant. Not one is trivial in any sense. All were potentially fairly high stakes. And yet, I was able to simply show up and let it unfold.
There is tremendous freedom in low expectations. I guess as I reflect on the essence of the attitude, I realise that it is that I don’t need anything in particular from the encounter. I am willing to receive whatever comes my way.
Such an attitude is a grace – I cannot will myself to desire anything other than that which I desire.To be open to receive whatever comes in the absence of specific desire is a real gift. I can be present to what unfolds as it is, without it needing to be other. As a result I am able to notice the gifts of what is, without regretting that which I hoped for.
I hope the grace of low expectations will take root in my life.