Every day I sit still for a while. I don't try to enter into any hi-falutin trance or special state of spiritual receptivity. I don't endeavour to think anything special or feel anything or have anything that might remotely be described as a spiritual experience. I don't try and shut myself down. I use my symbol, in my case a word, as a reminder of my own intention to consent to God. And I let God do what God wants to do. What stops God's action is the continual stream of nonsense occurring between my ears in the form of thoughts and sensations and strokes of brilliance and long stretches of pointless reverie. I don't try and resist these or try, Canute like, to stop the tide of them; but neither do I let them carry me off anywhere. By gently, effortlessly coming back to my symbol, I observe them and let them go on their (usually pointless) way.
Centering Prayer is a method of practicing saying yes to God's action and learning to step aside while God does what God has been asked to do. Like all methods though, it can become a bit jaded. Doing it a couple of times a day make make it into a routine, a chore to be done. And, genius procrastinator that I am, I come up with thousands of ingenious ways of undermining my own best efforts, usually by deploying some sort of achievement standard How am I doing today? Boy, aren't I getting good at this? Oh no! A surfeit of daydreams today, you lazy schmuck! So, as in all things, it's good to periodically go back to basics and revisit first principles. And Giving consent to God is the first of theses. I do this in the few minutes before I sit down. I do it be reminding myself of this principle at odd times during the day.
I did it this morning by breaking my routine; by taking a walk on the beach as the sun rose, my normal time for sitting still. I walked in a place I knew well and retook a picture that I had taken years ago, and which I once used as a header for this blog. I took it carefully, thinking of first principles, of observation and exposure and composition. I thought of the day ahead, and of commitments I have made. I tried, again, to consent to God.And then I returned home to stillness.