I am at Tatamagouche Centre participating in the third residency of the Atlantic Jubilee Program in Spiritual Deepening and Guidance. Midway through the eight days is a 24 hour silent Sabbath: a time set set aside for rest, silent prayer, meditation, walking, reading, journalling, anything that helps us draw closer to God, Spirit, however we understand the Divine.
To help prepare us to enter this time, one of our leaders engaged us in a time of centering prayer. Centering prayer is a contemplative, silent prayer when you meditate on a word and each time your find yourself distracted from that word, you just gently return yourself to your word. You can read more about centering prayer here. To assist us in noticing when our thoughts had strayed, we were given bowls and a handful of beans. Each time we had a thought, we were to drop or place a bean in the bowl and the leader would hold all those thoughts and distractions for us during our time of sabbath.
And so we began, a dozen women seated in a circle. It was only seconds before I heard the first bean drop, then realizing in noticing it, my focus had shifted away from the word I was meditating on and so I dropped a bean. Then several more beans were dropped, each one capturing my attention, and therefore necessitating me to dropping one of my own beans, and then another and yet another. I noticed at one point that the dropping of the beans was quite musical (in goes another one of my beans!) and I started to listen for patterns (in goes another bean). I wondered about writing a blog post about the sound of the beans. Drop. I wondered what I could call it. Drop, drop. When the title, “Music of the Beans” came to me, it tickled my funny bone. Drop, drop, drop. The more I thought about it the funnier it got. The funnier it got, the less I was able to pray, in fact, I could hardly contain a giggle. Drop, drop, drop. I took a deep breath and focused, focused, FOCUSED! “Don’t think about the beans!” I ran out of beans, before our prayer time was over.
Next time, my focus word will be beans!