A Sense of belonging
Prayer and Meditation in Action
Prayer and Meditation in Action
When I first started praying every day, and then began to learn to include meditation into my prayer life, as a disciplined aspect of my relationship with God, this was a very private area of my life for some time. I thought I was shy and insecure about prayer and I had a lot of fear of being made fun of when it came to my spiritual life, hopes, dreams and beliefs. It took several years for me to learn that I needed to recover from spiritual abuse that had resulted in my deep soul shame.
I experience this sense of belonging today, on a regular basis, but that was not always the case. The gift of 'having a sense of belonging' results from regular prayer and meditation in my life. I would like to share the one experience that began my soul's healing, as it related to prayer and belonging. This came from the efforts of another; my shame and resentments were so deep that I could not reach out to 'connect' spiritually with anyone. It was one special day, while in treatment with 6 years sober, and through the prayers of another that brought me this gift.
I was in my room trying to write my 'assignment' that was the beginning of my treatment program, and I sat at the end of my bed with a blank mind, paper and pen. My roommate walked in, I can not recall her name today or how long she had been sober, but she has never been forgotten by me, as her gift changed the course of my recovery and my life. She asked me what I was doing and after telling her my assignment to write and that I had no thoughts to make note of, she asked me if I had talked to God about it through prayer. I laughed, that 'you have got to be kidding me' kind of laugh, as I would not be in treatment 6 years sober if I could pray.
I told her no I had not, and the next thing she did was to ask me, instead of walking out of the room, "Would you like for me to pray for you?" I said yes, assuming she would walk away leaving me with the notion that I would be prayed for, as this was what I was accustomed too.
That is not what she did. She knelt down in front of me and held my hands and closed her eyes as she began to pray for me. I was shocked that someone I hardly knew was taking the time to stop and pray with me. I do not recall what she said, but I remember those tears as they rolled down my face, recognizing the lack of shame and care in her voice as she prayed to God for my needs. I grieved, accepting the loving offer of prayer she made for me, a stranger. I had never experienced that gift of love from a stranger before, and as she finished praying she got up and walked out of the room, leaving me to write my assignment. And, I was able to do so.
Her love, time and faith encouraged me and broke through my exterior wall of protection and spiritual shame, giving me a sense of belonging for the first time since my best friend had died and I knew I was no longer alone, especially in the spiritual world. I knew that my life depended on a spiritual way of life, but unrealistic idea's, grief and pain had filled my heart with resentments, blocking my soul from the sunlight of the spirit. Her prayer was like opening a dam that had kept me in spiritual prison, letting in fresh air and light.
I have never forgotten her example of action, (even after 20 years) and the effects of spiritual abuse and shame has healed allowing me to 'come out of the spiritual closet.' No longer concerned so much with what others think of me, spiritually. I have grown, not forgetting my former spiritual isolation, shame, fear, anger and loneliness and with her example of action and faith, I became willing to share prayer with others and to pray, talk to God spontaneously, no longer believing only memorized prayers are worthy of His attention.
Today, I am willing to pray for and with others, and have found this to be the action and power that caused the walls of difference, prejudice and shame to crumble, freeing me to experience shared unity that asks nothing in return. Sharing prayer with others is the action that gives me this gift of belonging and has freed me from spiritual isolation to be one in the body of God's family.
With gratitude and in His service
Carol Ann Preston, Chaplain