This quarter, Lydia Strand, LDI's Director of Ongoing and Contemplative Programs, offers the below reflection on her journey with restlessness and prophetic yearning.
LDI constantly explores the intersection of contemplative practice and social action. Two weeks ago, that exploration took me on a trip with other contemplative activists, where I sat with an Episcopal monk who has been committed to contemplative prayer for decades.
Frustrated, this monk said that many in the Church expect to get something out of prayer — that is, many think our prayers are to be answered and our lives are to become more as we desire. However, he insisted that contemplative prayer can often lead to greater suffering.
He said, “We don’t pray to get something out of it, but simply out of devotion to God.”
I realized that I often “pray to get something out of it.” I have learned to expect Centering Prayer to lead me to ease, harmony, and clarity.
For the last several months, my body has felt restless. As people publicly defend violence against women, families with mixed documentation status fear separation, and transgender students are denied respect and dignity, the stillness of Centering Prayer has become more difficult. Rather than providing the clarity I wanted, my prayer has been cloudy.
During Lent, I have been waking up to do a short yoga practice before a sit in Centering Prayer. This yoga movement has held my agitation of fear and restlessness, allowing me to be with God.
Physical movement has helped me confront restlessness at work. As I prepared to lead LDI’s March 11 training on Nonviolent Communication, I felt the familiar sense of agitation. When people’s families and bodies are in danger, would teaching a practice of empathy be enough? As I began teaching NVC, I wanted to disconnect and allow restlessness to carry me out of the room--to a superficial ease. However, by returning to my breath and my body’s movement, I stayed to teach a deep and engaging session on NVC. By allowing my restlessness, I can stay present to the prophetic yearning that leads to God’s dream.
In this newsletter, we will continue to explore the movement of prayer, prophetic yearning, and action. Read on to learn about Adiel Pollydore’s leadership at a contemplative retreat, the work of LDI’s Formation Program teams, and Movimiento Cosecha, a movement for permanent protection and dignity for immigrants in this country.
As I moved through Holy Week, I thought of Christ’s suffering and the yearning for a world more full of love. May we continue to surrender to agitation, and know that resurrection is possible.