Satisfy us by your loving-kindness so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life. Psalm 90:14 (Translation: Phyllis Tickle)
Today I am grateful because of God’s everlasting love and kindness.
A friend sent me an article by Henri Nouwen about the practice of moving from solitude… to community… to ministry. I was moved as I read his thoughts about the importance of setting aside time to abide in God’s loving presence:
“Solitude is being with God and God alone. Is there space for that in your life?
Why is it so important to be with God and God alone on the mountaintop? It is important because it is the place where you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you “the beloved.” To pray is to listen to the One who calls you “my beloved daughter,” “my beloved son,” “my beloved child.” To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of your being, to your guts, and let that voice resound in your whole being.
Who am I? I am the beloved. That is the voice Jesus heard when he came out of the Jordan River: “You are my beloved; on you my favor rests.” And Jesus says to you and to me that we are loved as He is loved. That same voice is there for you. When you are not claiming that voice, you cannot walk freely in this world.
Jesus listened to that voice all the time, and he was able to walk right through life. People were applauding him, laughing at him, praising him, and rejecting him… calling “Hosanna!” and calling “Crucify!” But in the midst of that, Jesus knew one thing – I am beloved; I am God’s favored one. He clung to that voice.” Henri Nouwen
I was struck by the idea of intentionally setting aside time to be filled with God’s loving presence… basking in His love… finding satisfaction in His loving-kindness. These thoughts were swirling through my mind when I ran across another article about the use of a daily Loving-Kindness practice with adults who experienced neglect and abuse as children. I realized that some people have a difficult time holding onto the feeling of love, even God’s everlasting love. It sifts through their hearts like water in a leaky bucket. The use of a formal, Loving Kindness meditation allows people to experience love and compassion, even if it is a little at a time. Furthermore, it lets them become less dependent on others for their sense of identity. Just as Jesus went over and over again to the “lonely places,” he went to abide in God’s loving presence before He went back out into the world.
With these two articles in mind, I was inspired to create a Loving-Kindness Centering Prayer that would integrate the idea of a daily formal centering prayer with an intentional experience of God’s presence. I was able to use *“A Christian Loving Kindness Meditation” to create a beautiful framework for my own Loving Kindness Centering Prayer.
I am grateful for this practice. A week has gone by and I already notice a difference in how I respond toward myself and others. I have more self-awareness of my moments of negativity. Plus, I am much gentler with myself as I learn to send out a prayer of God’s love, rest, and peace during difficult interactions.
I realize I have a long way to go. But this simple practice is a tangible way for me to experience and abide in God’s presence every day. If you would like to practice along with me, simply click on this link and it will take you to a 13 minute Loving Kindness Centering Prayer.
*Note: I had the honor of leading “A Christian Loving Kindness Meditation” at my church’s annual Women’s Retreat this year. This blog is also a response to those who requested an audio recording of the meditation.