GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Every Tuesday at 5:15 p.m., close to a dozen people of various denominations meet at the Church of the Nativity Episcopal Church for a half-hour of group meditation, also known as Centering Prayer, or contemplative prayer. Similar gatherings take place at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church and Crossroads United Methodist Church.
Forty years ago, three Trappist monks turned to ancient sources to develop a simple method of silent prayer for contemporary people. They were responding to the Roman Catholic Church's call to revive the contemplative teachings of early Christianity in a way that modern society would understand.
One of those monks, Thomas Keating eventually moved to St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, Colo., where he has continued to promote the practice of Centering Prayer. The monastery offers a number of retreats that focus on the practice of Centering Prayer.
To introduce others to the concept, the Rev. Nature Johnston of the Church of the Nativity is hosting a Centering Prayer workshop at the church, 2175 Broadway, Saturday, March 23 from 9 a.m. to noon. The workshop and the practice are for people of any faith, she said.
Though "undeniably Christian-flavored, it is open to everybody," Johnston said. "It attracts (people of the Unitarian Universalist) tradition, Unity (members) and our Buddhist brothers and sisters.
"Centering Prayer is silent prayer; mindfully and intentionally coming into the presence of God, with the understanding we don't have to do anything to be in God's presence - we just have to come.
"All of the spiritual masters of every spiritual tradition say that union with God is possible right now, this very minute."
The three-hour workshop will include an introduction to Centering Prayer by Sister Caroline Conway, former executive director of Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, and currently a spiritual director.
Participants will then sit in silence for 20 minutes.
After a short break the group will reconvene for a discussion with several long-time practitioners of Centering Prayer, followed by another 20 minute "sit."
By the end of the workshop Johnston said she hopes to come up with times and places for other group Centering Prayer meetings - to accommodate everyone who would like to continue with the practice as a group.
The technique can appear "counter-intuitive to some of us who are well-churched," Johnston said. "We often feel we have to do (something). The sacred text says just be still. It's in that quiet, stillness that we can achieve union with God."
For more information, visit www.church-of-the-nativity.com or call 970-245-9606.