One of the compulsions most of us wrestle with is the desire for control. The COVID-19 pandemic is revealing to all of us our illusion of control. Layers of confidence in our careers, our bank accounts, our health are being peeled away without our consent.
When we can release our hold on our cherished expectations, we are invited to explore deeper dimensions of trusting God, our only trustworthy source of hope and peace. God is never surprised, always present, in all circumstances. The Love at the ground of all existence can never be snatched from us, not even by fear or physical death.
One of the things Jesus shows us is that God is present and active even when things are at their worst. We cannot escape the reality of suffering in this life. If we are willing to stop resisting it and open ourselves—painful and scary as it is at first—to God’s presence and activity in the midst of it, we can experience the peace that is promised.
Father Richard Rohr urges us to practice this openness to God right now: “In this time of crisis, we must commit to a posture of prayer and heart that opens us to deep trust and connection with God. Only then can we hold the reality of what is happening—both the tragic and the transformative.”
A spiritual practice that has had a transformative impact on me is Welcoming Prayer.
Attributed to Father Thomas Keating, it has various forms, including one that can be said in a breath, in a moment of intentional relaxation and release: “I let go of my desire for security, affection, control and embrace this moment as it is.”
The form I use is this one:
“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.
Resist the temptation to orchestrate your own spiritual growth. Let God come to you in reality that presents itself daily to you.
Be not afraid, dear readers. God loves you deeply and eternally.
For a few more thoughts on this practice, go to https://crossministrygroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/R-Group-Process-Welcoming-Prayer.pdf