Prayer meeting question never asked . . .

. . . but dangerously close to being asked:

In a “theology” gathering of 25 or so members of a nearby parish, we were instructed to do some heavy meditating for eight minutes, each of us at a round table for six or eight. I put my head in hands and went to it. Think of nothing but a word you decide on, hang with it for the whole time, avoiding any thoughts or images or whatever, we were advised.

Centering prayer it’s called, but I spotted it pronto for good old Transcendental Meditation of the ’70s, brought to us by the Maharishi Something, who had a spread in Iowa. I took a course in it for a story, which ran with a memorable head shot of me with my eyes closed. An action shot, you know, of a man meditating.

Tonight I went to it and managed a semi-doze that suited me nicely, until the lady in charge, a liturgy associate type, instrumentally gifted and a leader of song, rang a bell, GONG! to tell us to come out of it.

It was at that point that I was inspired by the spirit of my misspent late middle age to lift up my head, turn to the lady bell-ringer, and ask, “For whom does that bell toll?”

God saved me from such a brutal faux pas, sending a good spirit who (gasp!) provided me with a 1950s-style INHIBITION that saved the evening. Wow.

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