Prayer and meditation is a key element of life in the Chaplaincy. Each week we have five different Christian groups meeting in the Centre. The prayer room is also used by students from the Sikh, Baha’i, Hindu, and Muslim Societies for group or individual prayer.
For Christian students we have just held a week of guided prayer. This is run ecumenically with my Catholic Chaplaincy colleagues from the Chemin-neuf and prayer guides who are lay members of Anglican churches.
Nineteen students signed up as pilgrims and a few others joined as we went along. The pilgrims meet for 30 minutes each day with a prayer guide. The guide listens to the pilgrim and suggests ways to meditate or pray from a wide range of resources. The key elements are finding a way to pray that fits into daily life, that integrates with our individual needs and preferences.
The Christian faith has vaste, and not very widely known, resources for meditation and contemplative prayer. What I especially like is that meditative or contemplative prayer can take our actually lived experiences seriously. Many people on the week seemed to find ways to read Scripture meditatively. This allows us to be questioned by the texts and to be open to the images and feelings of the passage. This is important because so many expressions of Christianity remain just ‘in the head’ – people doing rational thinking about religious ideas. At least in this way of meditation there is space for our emotions, our dreams and desires, our bodies as well as our minds. More posts on slow meditative reading, silence, stillness and Ignatian prayer to come I think.