Guest Blogger, Terry Dolan
I have had the joy and privilege of enjoying “Prayer Is…” from the perspective of a planner, a volunteer greeter, and a participant since its inception at FPC Bethlehem. Seeing it develop from an amorphous concept to its reality over a period of months each year has been affirmation that the Spirit is real and present and active for us all. The committee members pray, plan, partner to examine and project layouts, prayer forms, dates, modifications, advertising, materials, printing, and on and on. Meanwhile, the Spirit clearly inspires, empowers, and guides. Finally, on a Sunday afternoon a flurry of fellowship and activity occurs. Furnishings and plants and draperies and carpets and lights are brought from all areas of the church. The labyrinth is brought in and unrolled and the setup begins. There is sharing and helping. There is laughter and fellowship. There is adjusting and in an amazingly short time the event is readied for the congregation and the community. My reaction has always been the same. I know the plans and the details. I have helped with the labor. There is nothing unexpected present, but my reaction to the sacred calming space is invariably nothing short of awe. As I put a few finishing touches on my little section and turn to take in the fruits of all the efforts, it is clear that the finished product is greater than the sum of its parts.
As a greeter, it has been a pleasure to welcome participants, some familiar with the event and confident in their expectations and others new to it and unsure or even a bit nervous. All are welcomed and encouraged. Come in. Relax. Explore. Sample. Experience. Learn. Stay as long as you like. Come back as often as you want. Take the experience with you.
As a participant, I am moved and inspired. Something I know in my head becomes evident in my heart. God hears me in whatever language I use, in whatever form my reaching out to Him takes. I pray in traditional words. I pray in quiet meditation on my knees before His cross, as I walk the labyrinth, or as I read His words. I screen out potential distractions and focus on my bodily rhythms and my breathing to pray. I use tangibles like water, sand, and stones. I feel Him in sacred music. I pray in actions like painting or beading or writing. I pray for community, the community of Church, the community of city, the community of country, the community of world. I experience prayer in these and other forms. Each time there is something new, a different option in reaching out and in receiving a response, an option that touches me for whatever the reason at the moment. Life is hurried and busy. I can pray when I don’t have time to pray. Sometimes, for some, life slows down a bit. I can pray in my leisure and at length. Whatever my situation of the moment, I can reach out.
I am grateful for “Prayer Is….”
About the Author:
Terry Dolan is in his 24th year as a high school psychologist at Warren Hills High School in New Jersey. He is the proud father of three adult children and Pop Pop to two beautiful grandchildren. Through the support and invitation from friends and family, he has been a member at FPCB for 9 years. He is a youth leader, youth mentor and small group participant. Through his work on the Board of Deacons he found himself involved with Prayer Is….