Father Thomas Keating describes centering prayer as being like a scuba diver settled on a large rock upon a riverbed. You do not rest on the rock alone; God is present alongside you. The river is Life, streaming, flowing, trickling, cascading and altering current and course with flood and drought, with falling rock and shifting ground. Anchored by God’s presence, you allow the waters to flow past you, over you, and around you. Above the riverbed your thoughts and feelings float like boats on the water’s surface. From your underwater perch on the river’s floor, you can distinguish each thought and feeling, observing the boats come about, heel, pitch, heave to, and founder and thus giving freedom to your thoughts to be just as they are.
On this day of Epiphany, on this day of enlightenment, of gift-giving, of insight, I allow the vessels of my thoughts and feelings to jostle against one another – sloshing and spitting water, spraying and listing. Some are catching wind. Some lay dead in the water, awaiting a brisk breeze. I am aware of them. I know from a glance at their sunken underbellies what lies tucked away in each hull above.
But for this Epiphany, on this day of light, I will sink to the riverbed; and I will place my openness before the Ground of Being, before the Source of all Light, before the One who gives desire to travel far and to see and know wonder.
For this Epiphany, I will sit on the river’s bottom with the One who birthed my being and know that these boats sail only for a time; and then, they will pass. I will wait in the deep down place knowing even I, too, will be changed from “glory into glory,” knowing that once I was no more than a slumbering hot water bottle radiating heat on my mother’s chest. I will rest below the river’s surface for this Epiphany knowing in the end, I will release the mainsail of my breath and I will surrender the headsail of my ego and sail on in another river as another vessel.
In loving memory of Wayne and his puckered whiskered lips, ready for another smoke and his next witty retort.
© Amy Persons Parkes 2013