156 N. Monroe St.
P.O. Box 507
La Grange, Texas 78945
Father Eric: 979.968.3910
in the Preschool
Tuesday - Friday
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Father Eric, Shyla, Origen & Una Hungerford
From our Rector:
I have a friend and colleague who is an Episcopal priest who also has psychological training and he says “there are only
two cures for anxiety: one is physical exercise, and the other is spiritual exercise.”
When he talks of anxiety he talks about how our physiology is designed so that when we experience fear, it triggers a
fight or flight response in the amygdala which is a part of our brain roughly the size and shape of an almond. This was what controlled whether or not we ran from a lion when one came charging toward
us on the savanna. The problem is that we have fewer reasons to fight or flee than we used to but just as many or more ways for our amygdala to get triggered. The chemicals would get “burned off” by
running away from the lion, but if we’re not running away anymore, those fear chemicals just float around in there without anywhere to go. (He explains it a lot better than I do, and I’m no
neuroscientist; so take my explanations with a grain of salt.)
Long story short, everybody in modern life has too much anxiety. My challenge for us as a congregation during this holy
season is to give up anxiety for Lent. Here’s how: Whatever triggers that fear center for you, be it the news, Facebook, arguing with friends or relatives, allow yourself to take a 40 day hiatus from
those activities. Instead I challenge us to take on a 40 day spiritual practice. There are many things that fall under the category of spiritual practice: the study of scripture, engaging in an
artistic pursuit, journaling, playing or listening to music, dance. All of these are ways for us to enter into relationship with our creator.
Some of you have probably heard me mention before my own Contemplative Prayer, or Centering Prayer practice. In our lesson for Ash Wednesday we heard Jesus words to his disciples in Matthew 6:6, “…whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Fr. Thomas Keating is a teacher of Contemplative Prayer and has formulated a method called Centering Prayer based on the ancient Christian practice
of Lectio Divina and it is an outgrowth of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew’s gospel.
Keating writes “Pray to your Father in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will bring your whole human nature to
full flourishing and blooming. This we call, following Matthew 6:6, “the inner room,” that is, the spiritual level of our being, which we deliberately move to in the method or practice of
Centering Prayer, by letting go temporarily of all our external concerns, and then all our interior dialog, or the concerns or the conversation we have with ourselves and reaction to what’s happening
within and around us.”
Here is a short summary of how centering prayer works from Keating’s Website, contemplativeoutreach.org, “1. Choose a
sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within. 2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the
symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within. 3. When engaged with your thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word. 4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence
with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.” The sacred word can be a word that has stood out to you from scripture, it could be the name of Jesus, or a phrase like “Lord, be with me” or “I Love
I hope you will join me for 40 days of spiritual exercise. I encourage you to consider trying Centering Prayer. For those who feel so called, I will be leading guided contemplative prayer sessions in our beautiful historic sanctuary on Tuesdays at noon during Lent directly after our 11:00 a.m. Bible Study. There is also a group that meets on Fridays at 9:00 a.m. in our sanctuary. I hope you will consider joining me over the next 40 days for a meaningful deepening in our relationship with God.
Yours in Christ,