I remember first being introduced to meditation in my 20s, and for some reason, in spite of an often restless mind, I also had a strong sense that I was somehow coming home. As I persevered with my initial clumsiness, I found myself looking forward to the ceremony of sitting, allowing my restlessness to soften, and wait. What I couldn’t name at the time was the experience of Presence which then enfolded me, and drew me back in expectation for the next sitting. I also didn’t recognise at that time the seeds of self-kindness which were being sown.
Twenty years later, I look back at my younger self, and have to admire the humble innocence of a young adult finding her own way in life. I look back amazed at the disciplined practice I enjoyed then. I can still be a little restless. I suppose I am also older and hopefully a little wiser. Surrender comes easier now. Life has brought many joys and storms in the intervening years, each one cracking open the heart ever wider. Life has shown I am not in control of the vast majority of events unfolding in my life. Life has also shown that a force of gentleness and providence was with me throughout these years. The lives of my family were held and a pull towards truth, simplicity and trust was moving through us.
I realised some years ago that it was no longer possible to limit my daily practice to one or two periods of meditation, or regretfully none at all on occasion. I needed more help in the in-between times. I found I needed to reconcile the remainder of my day with the peace and serenity I felt during meditation. Slowly I noticed a inner pull towards a more contemplative way of living, the turning and surrender of each moment into prayer and devotion. This practice became a welcome anchor at difficult moments, and a celebration at times of breakthrough.
I still struggle with the discipline needed to sit in meditation and Centering Prayer. I welcome but no longer cling to the consolations which can come. I don’t always feel the strength of Presence which I felt in my younger years. I now seek to simply rest in Silence, rather than seeking a felt experience of Presence.
Though it may go against our nature, the act of surrendering is Nature itself. One moment and one season surrender into the next. The cycles of life surrender into each other. Birds and animals know this instinctively. They are led by inner rhythms dictated by Nature. We also see this graceful process unfolding in many people. They grow in wisdom and acceptance as they get older, and are often recognised by their strong sense of humour about Life's ups and downs. Surrender has made them humble and adaptable. They have witnessed many people making their final surrender from this life. They know that Life is to be lived, enjoyed and revered, moment by moment.
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.
Mary Mrozowski, Contemplative Outreach Founder