My children have had a long standing Christmas tradition of receiving two gifts of their choosing within a certain dollar amount. In addition to that they received many small gifts in their stockings that they had no idea they were getting. The ritual of choosing very personal items, wrapping them and filling each stocking the night before Christmas is something I have always delighted in. Every year hands down, my children (even now as grownups!) have loved their smaller surprise gifts far more than their bigger known gifts. I find a huge correlation in this to my prayer life.
If I allow my prayer life to be that of asking for certain “bigger things”, in most cases I can trace them to a root of fear and insecurity (how does one know what one wants anyway?). If there is any awareness at all on my part I am often left feeling so small for treating God like a vending machine. In contrast, it is in the prayer of letting go into the unknown that I am positioned to receive gifts from God that are hand picked for me, out of utter perfect love. Every time hands down, the value of these gifts far outweigh the “bigger” and known gifts I find myself asking for. For this reason, I have come to love the Welcoming Prayer.
When I practice this prayer I find a magnificent invitation for my soul to morph from the deep dark into an expansive dawning if only I dare lay out my welcome mat. Though I often face resistance with my old mental pictures of fear, it is when I push through the fires of known pain that I am surprised by a sustaining beautiful Presence that is companioning me alongside of them. Perhaps the Welcoming Prayer is a way for us to experience that in our own fiery furnace we truly are not burned, rather it is a place where we can be found in singing to God and blessing others (Daniel 3).
Here are two forms of the Welcoming Prayer for you to to try.
The Welcoming Prayer by Richard Rohr:
“The Welcoming Prayer” encourages you to identify in your life, now or in the past, a hurt or an offense: someone who has done you wrong, or let you down.
• Feel the pain of the offense the way you first felt it, or are feeling it in this moment, and feel the hurt in your body. Why is this important? Because if you move it to your mind, you will go back to dualistic thinking and judgments: good guy/bad guy, win/lose, either/or.
• Feel the pain so you don’t create the win/lose scenario. Identify yourself with the suffering side of life; how much it hurt to hurt. How abandoned you felt to be abandoned.
• Once you can move to that place and know how much it hurts to hurt, you would not possibly want that experience for anybody else.
• This might take a few minutes. Welcome the experience and it can move you to the Great Compassion. Don’t fight it! Don’t split and blame! Welcome the grief and anger in all of its heaviness. Now it will become a great teacher.
The Welcoming Prayer (by Father Thomas Keating)
Welcome, Welcome, Welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and God’s action within.