Welcoming God Within
By Joyce Buteyn-Garrett
One of the many things that I have appreciated throughout my career with Dry Bones Denver is the way the organization has created sacred space for “being” in intentional quiet at our Tuesday staff meetings. We begin each meeting with an extended time of silence. As staff, filled with together-ness and gratitude, we give quiet opportunity to each individual’s possibility. It is also a time where we each have a choice to connect with God within. Often this brings clarity and understanding to the “doing” of the week ahead and the space to share how we perceive and give meaning to both our individual and collective mission vision for the work before us. Next to my Sunday morning Quaker meeting, I’d have to say that this weekly devotional time is a sacred cornerstone that nourishes and fuels the “being” and the “doing” of my life.
When COVID became a reality, Matt and Robbie wasted no time opening up the staff to conversations about the additional needs of the young people we serve. We discussed at length how we would continue to connect with our friends while incorporating safety measures for the whole Dry Bones community. This conversation led to the expansion of the weekly staff gathering to a daily ritual with a focus on devotion. Through the magic of the internet, we now gather in this sacred space of inner quiet and deeper sharing every morning. Our new process allows for a rotation where each staff person leads the group. This allows all of us an opportunity to share and minister not only to the group, but to ourselves, as we bare our personal journey with Christ and with God. Sharing with each other, as each of us individually and collectively walk along this new path, a path that has taken us through a worldwide storm that is disarming and at the same time, oddly uniting humanity in its chaos.
The prayer we all agree to share each morning is The Welcoming Prayer, developed by Mary Morzowski and shared widely through Thomas Keating’s work. It is simple and to the point. On most mornings, the simplicity clears the way for opening to a deeper spiritual experience. However, I recently found myself resisting the simplicity, the familiar rhythm of the words, the emotional clearing, and the deeper spiritual calling. In its place grew a wall of anxiety, anger, loneliness and pain resonating from my soul, creating an instantaneous physical ultimatum to run “like hell” from the prayer.
I demand and plead with God for a different prayer, another prayer, any prayer but this prayer. Then, I hear Robbie’s voice reading the prayer a second time through and saying “welcome” three times with such deep intent and purpose that it causes me to inhale the welcome fully and deeply. I breath out into a place of inner-welcome to myself for all these feelings and emotions. I find a place for each feeling to gather as I honor each one by name. In doing so, the sacred space expands in an inner acceptance of my worthiness to be heard by God for whatever it is I have to feel. My resistance transforms into compassion, peace and calm, expanding toward the group energy outside of me and welcoming all of our collective feelings and emotions, whatever they may be. I welcome them to the love and light of God in preparation and readiness for our “doing” and sharing with those that wait for God’s welcoming through us.
The Welcoming Prayer is simple and thank goodness for that. I now see that its simplicity allows me to experience more clearly both God’s love and direction even through the challenging spiritual wall created by fear, anxiety and anger. This simple prayer allows all the sacred space required for us to be welcomed by the hand of God, all feelings blessed as worthy of being heard and transformed into the energy needed to meet the day, thereby welcoming those placed in our paths to the same worthiness of the light and love of God that we all share.
So I ask myself now, as we approach the Amen, what do I choose to be alive in me today. I respond, “The simple prayer of welcome”.
WELCOME, WELCOME, WELCOME
I (We) welcome everything that comes to me (us) today
Because I (We) know it is for my (our) healing
I (We) welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations and conditions.
I (We) let go of my (our) desire for power and control.
I (We) let go of my (our) desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure.
I (We) let go of my (our) desire for survival and security.
I (We) let go of my (our) desire to change any situation, condition, person or myself (ourselves).
I (We) open to the love and presence of God and God’s action within.