by Marjorie George
We’re just a group of women who are determined to step back from our busy lives for one hour a week. We are of various shapes, sizes, and colors – some of us just beginning our careers, some of us retired, some of us with kids at home, some of us empty-nesters, some of us lawyers, some of us artists, some of us social workers.
Outside of our weekly gathering we rarely see each other; we have no idea what church each of us attends. Or if we even attend a church. We don’t go to lunch after the meeting.
We come and join the circle and do not speak to each other. We read a few pages – together but silently – from a small booklet by Thomas Merton designed for groups such as this. Then we sit.
And then it happens – the Holy Spirit becomes known among us. And one by one, as we are led, we speak what we have just discovered that we have known forever. There is no cross-talk; there is only this incredible sense of togetherness as we each offer some thoughts (or not – speaking up not required). And we smile at each other and nod in agreement. The spirit has broken through our individualism and knit us together, though we do not debate or offer another point of view or feel a need for a clever response.
Sometimes I read our assigned material ahead of time and am not inspired; then when I read it again in the company of the others, all sorts of new understanding is revealed. We are walking on the road to Emmaus, and later we marvel that our minds were opened when the Spirit walked with us (see Luke 24:32).
Notice the instances in Scripture when Christ speaks of sending the spirit – the disciples were together for the Passover meal (John 14:26), or were together behind locked doors because they were afraid (John 20:22). On the great day of Pentecost, the disciples were “all together in one place” when the spirit came upon them (Acts 2:1).
Such is the power of the spirit among the community gathered. And the community is always gathered somewhere. As I go to bed on Saturday night, the church in Hong Kong comes together for Sunday morning worship. As I awake on Sunday morning and begin a time of private meditation, the Christian community in Jerusalem is getting ready for close-of-day prayers.
There’s even an app for that – Insight Timer meditation timer (search the App Store) shows that around the world 205 persons who are linked to the app are meditating at this very moment. When two or three, or 205 – are gathered together, said Christ, there I am in the midst of them.
“The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes,” said Jesus to Nicodemus. “So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:8, 6).
Clearly, the spirit pulls up a folding chair and joins our little circle once a week, inspiring us, nudging us, giving us clarity, one by one by one.
It is the absolute best conversation I‘ve ever had.
Our group gathers on Wednesdays at noon at Viva Bookstore in San Antonio. If you want to know more about this group, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our group uses the Bridges to Contemplative Living series edited by Jonathan Montaldo and Robert G. Toth of the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living. It is available at this link:
Marjorie George is the editor of ReflectionsOnline and Reflections magazine. Reach her at Marjorie.email@example.com.