I had completely forgotten how overwhelming life is in a household with a new baby, especially if the baby is the first baby born into that household! I write from London where I am spending time with my lovely new granddaughter, Ada, and her terrific parents (very true, even if I am biased!). Ada is five weeks old, and life is a bit more settled, until it isn’t. There are moments of pure joy, unlike any I have ever known, and heart-stopping moments when the enormity of this amazing work of raising a new generation hits, along with the angst and sleep deprivation that goes with being new parents. It can be overwhelming. But to counter the overwhelmedness, I am reminded of a core principle of Ignatian Spirituality, the understanding of ‘God in all things’ and the challenge of finding God not only in the joys and wonders but also in that which is not so easy or pleasant. A new baby, a new job, a new home can be both joyous and very hard work! There are other new things: a new diagnosis, a new bereavement, a new fear of...whatever. Whether joys or sorrows or fears, I am invited to offer these situations and the feelings and emotions that arise from them to God. My Ignatian-trained spiritual director offered a prayer to me that is helpful in responding to the invitation to take these situations to God. This prayer is called ‘The Welcoming Prayer’ which comes from the contemplative prayer tradition of Centering Prayer* but has its roots in the writings of Father Jean Pierre de Caussude, a 17th century Jesuit priest (St. Ignatius was the founder of the Jesuits). Mary Mrozowski, one of the co-founders of Contemplative Outreach and an early leader of Centering Prayer, formulated The Wel-coming Prayer. In her words, “To welcome and to let go is one of the most radically loving, faith-filled gestures we can make in each moment of each day. It is an open-hearted embrace of all that is in ourselves and in the world.
At its simplest, the invitation is to Focus in, Welcome and Let Go. The Reverend Cynthia Bourgealt, in her book ‘Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening’ describes the three aspects of this spiritual practice as becoming physically aware of the energy created by the feeling or emotion as a sensation in the body, creating a present moment to welcome that feeling or emotion; naming the feeling or emotion (anger, fear, sorrow, joy, excitement…) and saying ‘I welcome ….’, and when you are ready, ‘I let go of…’, giving space for God’s love and presence to heal, for now…
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
God’s action within. Amen.
As we head into our new program year at SJC, and each of us attends to all the new things in our lives, I offer you ‘The Welcoming Prayer’ that it might bless you as it has blessed me.