There are many containers that hold our contemplative experiences, just as there are many forms of listening prayer that nurture our awakening to God’s presence and movement among us. Ultimately, each life experience can be a contemplative experience if we engage our in-God/with-God awareness. Often we need guides and companions to help awaken our awareness. We are encouraged that Jesus would withdraw frequently to a quiet place in order to connect more deeply with triune God. A contemplative gathering also can encourage a growing awareness. Contemplative gatherings can take many forms, and one common form within our Selah community is a SoulCare group. Here is a suggested format:
Start with lighting a candle, or by placing an object in the center, or some other ritual that draws your attention to the sacredness of the space you are in, and serves as a reminder of the ever-presence of God.
Take a little time in silence, or with some soft contemplative instrumental music; let go of all that distracts you from your intention to be present to God’s presence and to draw your heart’s attention more deeply toward God’s movements.
Introduce a few words, a verse, a short quote, or a small prayer that may serve as a launching point for this shared contemplative experience with God. Don’t be afraid of long pauses or silence. In fact, encourage listening into the silence together.
Participate together in a listening prayer experience such as Lectio Divina, Centering Prayer, or Consciousness Examen. Take it slow, allow things to unfold gradually, and pay attention to movement beyond words. (Go to “Listening Prayer Practices” to learn more about various practices for listening with God in community.)
Share your experiences with each other, giving time to pause between each person’s sharing and allowing your present experience of each other to be a part of your listening with God. Review our guidelines for creating a safe and trusting experiences.
Take time to find your heart-felt gratitude for whatever God has brought to your attention and express it to God as a closing of your time together.