Contemplation is not something we “achieve.” We fall into contemplation like falling into a river. Yet, to fall into the river is not enough.
We need to learn to swim the river. We need to learn to stabilize the practice of Centering Prayer. This requires discipline. Any art form worth doing well, such as playing the violin, requires daily practice.
Since the spring of 1999 I have applied the discipline of an athlete to Centering Prayer, rarely missing forty minutes of daily Centering Prayer and extended yearly retreats.
As my Centering Prayer practice became integrated into my busy life as a husband, dad, and minister I explored mystical texts of Christian tradition that spoke to my contemplative experience. This quest for integration slowly led me and my team to identify the roots of Christian Mysticism:
The ROOT life CALLING of NEW MONASTICISM
The ROOT daily DISCIPLINE of CENTERING PRAYER
The ROOT study & EMULATION of CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM
The ROOT mystical THEOLOGY of the JESUS PARADOX
The ROOT ETHIC of NONVIOLENCE toward people & the earth
Of course the tree of Christian Mysticism has a vast canopy. But, in our estimation we need to identify the roots. For us, these are it.
The least known of the five roots is the Jesus Paradox, so that was the subject of my first book, Healing The Divide, published by Wipf & Stock in 2013. For future RCMR book projects see “About the Books” in the drop down menu of the “About” tab.
Currently Rich Lewis and I co-lead RCMR. Rich and I have fed off each other in a synergy that is greater than we could have achieved individually. Our partnership is based on our shared daily discipline of Centering Prayer and our passion to Recover Christianity’s Mystic Roots.
Dee Anne Phillip assists us as our editor and with multi-media.
RCMR explores a foundational question… Is the way we perceive reality dualistic or non-dual? Is it about persistent binaries or holistic consciousness?
RCMR works toward slowly transforming the root of consciousness through Centering Prayer. Then as Centering Prayer matures, New Monasticism, Christian Mysticism, the Jesus Paradox, and Nonviolence integrate non-dual awareness into the full spectrum of our lives.
I hope that you will share in RCMR’s life-giving journey of daily discipline and actual experience.
When Amos Smith’s book, “Healing the Divide” was published in March of 2013, I came across it while browsing on Amazon. I tried a sample. I could not get into it. I was just not ready for it. I put it aside but knew that perhaps in the future I would give it another try.
In the meantime, I began dabbling in silent prayer. I had heard that silence was transforming. I wanted to experience this transformation too. I would force myself to sit in silence. It was difficult! I began testing how long I could sit in silence. I started with one minute and increased it to three and even four minutes.
In the beginning of 2014, I came back to Amos’s book. I started to read it. I was ready for it now! As I read it, I began jotting down questions. What is this Jesus Paradox that Amos is referring to and why should I care? Amos has been a long term practitioner of centering prayer. I wanted to learn more about centering prayer. Am I really a divine being and a human being?
I emailed Amos these questions. To my surprise, Amos quickly responded. We began an email dialogue. In time, Amos asked me to help him with RCMR social media. In 2014, Amos asked me if I wanted to co-author a book with him. He suggested we write a book about the Jesus Paradox. I agreed. Over the last year and a half I have been working on our upcoming book titled, “Jesus Paradox: The Heart of My Faith | Discovering The Dynamic Union of The Historic Jesus and The Divine Christ.
In August of 2015 I began a weekly Monday meditation to complement Amos’ Thursday weekly meditation via email (RCMR Bi-weekly Newsletter). In these meditations I share my spin on the RCMR mission: Centering Prayer, New Monasticism, Christian Mysticism, Jesus Paradox, Nonviolence.
On June 1, 2014 I decided to stop experimenting and make a daily commitment to my centering prayer practice. The recommended guidelines are twice per day, twenty minutes each time. Previously, I dabbled with centering prayer. I knew this was not enough. I knew God was calling me. I knew God wanted me to experience more and more of Her Spirit. I decided to consent to the presence and action of God within. I knew that the only way to do this was to follow the recommended guidelines.
Laurence Freeman states, “Sitting down to meditate for the first time is a decisive moment in your spiritual path. It is similar to turning on the ignition at the beginning of a long car trip.” This was my decisive moment!
These last two years have been an incredible journey for me. It is amazing to think that it all started because I decided to take a second look at Amos’ book, “Healing the Divide”. I look forward to continuing the RCMR work with Dee Anne, Amos and others that join us.
Dee Anne Phillips
When my journey of spiritual discovery began decades ago, I never thought I’d be in a later season of life feeling spiritually at loose ends. Fortunately, a few years ago, I determined that God must be trying to tell me something and perhaps I’d better stop. Stop doing, stop running, stop planning, stop being scared, stop analyzing, and stop trying to have a close relationship with God where I did all the talking.
Yes, I had stumbled into centering prayer. I didn’t have a name for it. I just thought of it as pressing the pause button and starting to listen. Soon, I was astonished. All this built-up angst was swept away. It was like being dipped in a sea of love. I arrived with spiritual baggage, but I decided to toss it, rather than unpack. To concentrate on a new day, rather than being held captive by the old.
Eventually, I noticed Rich Lewis’s words of wisdom, shared expertly and succinctly in 140 character segments on Twitter. I wondered, what did RCMR stand for? Both he and a man named Amos Smith had those letters before their names on Twitter. I decided to explore…
I read Amos Smith’s book, Healing the Divide. Early on, when he wrote of “spiritual homelessness” it resonated deeply. It was a great description of my spiritual life before centering prayer. But these days I was basking in a deeper relationship with God, arriving at our “meetings” with an open heart, rather than a “grocery list” of wants.
I prayed one morning that God please give me something I could do (I have Multiple Sclerosis, diagnosed twenty years ago, so delivering water to disaster zones or carrying anything for that matter, is out). I should not have been surprised when mere hours later, Amos Smith made first contact via Twitter, to ask if I had any experience proofreading. My friends’ reactions to this is amusement, because I’ve been doing that sort of thing for over thirty-five years. When I told Amos I knew him contacting me was a “God-thing”, I asked what it was like on his end. “How did you pick me?” I asked. He responded, “Some people might call it dumb luck. I call it grace.”
- Amos Smith: Founding, Writing, Publicity
- Rich Lewis: Writing, Publicity
- Dee Anne Phillips: Editing, Multimedia
- Kimberly Holman: Editing
- Trina Lewis: Editing
- Brad Peterson: Web Design