Pastor Helen Lawson said the practice of Christian meditation has given her life, and that’s why she’s teaching the practice to others during the United Kingdom’s coronavirus lockdown.
Throughout the pandemic, Lawson has made weekly audio recordings to guide listeners through a Christian meditation practice, posting them to her churches’ Facebook pages. Lawson is co-leading two innovative pioneering works in northeast England: Outdoors Church, a hiking church based in Sheffield; and Church Around the Table, a community that has formed around a food bank ministry, and meets for services over a hot meal.
This spring was the first time Lawson has widely shared a form of prayer that is deeply meaningful to her.
Lawson describes this meditative prayer as an “ascetic spiritual discipline, which faces and embraces pain rather than running from it. It’s quite cross-shaped, in that it’s all about little deaths leading to new life on new life on new life. In terms of the theology of it, I would talk about being transformed, becoming holy and being drawn into the love and presence of God in a way that leaves you changed and enables you to live differently.”
However, not everyone may be ready to engage in the practice.
“You let the thoughts rise up, you face them, you don’t hide from them,” she said. “And then, in the presence of Christ, you let them go, because everything is done that needs to be done. It’s a change of gaze that requires discipline, because the world we live in doesn’t make it easy for that to be natural. And it’s not natural for us because of the way our minds are very loud.”
The first recorded session had 78 views, and the engagement has gradually decreased over the weeks of the pandemic, as new habits are hard for many people to cement and sustain. That is why she recommends people find others to commit to the practice with them for purposes of accountability.
“Doing it in a group could make a difference. The times when I’ve done it with other people have been so helpful.”
For those who are interested in learning more about this spiritual discipline, Lawson recommends the book, Into the Silent Land, by Martin Laird.
This article was written by Gina Grate Pottenger and previously published in the August 2020 edition of Where Worlds Meet.