by Susan B.
As of June, 2018, Contemplative Outreach members began offering Centering Prayer meetings online via Zoom software. Tonight, I attended my first meeting. It was phenomenal!
I’m particularly excited about this because I’m disabled and it’s hard for me to drive. I’ve yearned for spiritual community, but have been unable to be part of a local group. The website that hosts the meetings is called MeditationChapel.org, “an interfaith meditation community.” Currently, they have four groups (including Centering Prayer) offering meditation. There is an online calendar with a schedule. Right now, there are groups meeting every day.
So, let me tell you more about my experience this evening with the Centering Prayer group. There were eight people attending from all over the world! It’s sometimes difficult to go into a new situation not knowing anyone, but everyone was quite welcoming. Your name appears on the screen after you join the meeting, and people make the effort to say hello to you.
One of the best parts of the virtual community is the ability to mute your microphone when not speaking and during the mediation. I love this, so that I don’t have to worry when I need to cough or clear my throat. Or when the dog starts barking to come into the room (that happened).
Also, note that when you register on the site (the first time you log in), you pick an avatar (an image that displays when your camera is off). So if you want, you can shut off your camera and just have the image display while you’re meditating. And, of course, you can choose any name or just your first name. It was a breeze to join and get set up. A small file from Zoom will be downloaded if you are using a computer. If you are using any other device, you can download the Zoom app before registering.
Tonight, the leader chose to read a Bible passage about inclusion, which displayed on the screen, and she read it slowly three times. Then, we had open discussion. And then she played a one minute video of Fr. Keating talking about unconditional love. The one sad note was that the leader informed us that Fr. Keating has gone into Hospice. But hearing his voice and sharing about his message enabled us to send love to him from afar.
My hope is to start an online 12 Step Centering Prayer meeting down the road, where those of us in recovery can integrate the practice with our program. I can’t say enough about how lovely this experience was and how easy it is, in this venue, to share video and text with participants, as well as to speak and participate. Right now, the Centering Prayer meetings are:
Monday 9 pm
Thursday 6 pm
Thursday 7:40 pm (Spanish)