The theme for this first month of the novitiate seems simple enough – “Prayer.” I remember when I heard that I thought “Oh, good, we're starting off slow.” I don't think that any more.
In typical formation fashion, I've spent a lot of time reflecting on my current patterns and modes of prayer, how they fit into my new life as a Dominican sister, and what aspects of my prayer life can and should change during this time. There were two significant instances that occurred this past weekend that I am still trying to process and blend into my prayer life.
The first occurred during our Friday day of reflection, when Don Goergen, OP came to lead us in a reflection on “Contemplation.” I had been looking forward to this day ever since I asked the question of the group “So, what is contemplation?” (Might was well get to the heart of these things!) In the end, I wasn't disappointed. Judging by the group sharings at the end of the day, I think we all learned quite a lot in those few quiet hours. I know I did, most of which I am still trying to integrate into my day-to-day living. (Hey, it's only been four days! It's still a work in progress).
The second prayer experience of the weekend was Sunday night at the Interfaith Memorial in Music, which commemorated the 10thanniversary of September 11, 2001. This was a very moving experience, featuring Christian, Hindu, Islamic, and Jewish prayers, all in their native languages. I realized that language isn't necessary for true prayer – the soul can interact with God just fine through the lilting children's prayer sung in Arabic by a group of mothers or the soulful petitions made in Hebrew by a single man on stage.
I think what I have learned most in these past few days is that our hearts can and will commune with God all of their own accord, when we allow ourselves to get out of the way.