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Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
Luke 24:31 (NRSV)
Paul," my friend Stephen whispered into the deep silence of our midnight prayer vigil. Paul was a young
Jewish convert to Christianity, who had been blind since early childhood. The three of us-Stephen, Paul and I-were keeping watch on the "wee hours" shift of a parish all-night vigil. Stephen could see Paul's very Jewish profile as he knelt next to him.
"Paul," Stephen whispered again. "I used to beg Jesus, 'Please show me your face. Let me see your face.' And Paul, I just realized that Jesus looks just like you!"
My heart leapt, not because of the words, but from the profound realization of what they implied. My friend, Stephen, had longed to see, had begged to see, and had seen Jesus' face. Other wise, how could he say in such ecstasy, "Paul, he looks just like you"?
Become aware of how your heart longs for union with God in an intimate embrace of love. Know that God also longs for you. Make this your prayer today:
Yes, jesus, I long for you. I long for your love. I long to see you. I long to be with you. You and you alone are enough for me-El Shaddai-the one who alone is perfect sufficiency. Yes, I do long and have longed for your presence for as long as I can remember. But my very longing is itself your gift, since you first longed for me. Right now, today, I wish to be totally present to your over whelming love. (Conclude your prayer time with thanksgiving.)
Enjoy your mental ability to image Jesus clearly as you let your heart speak. If you cannot create a pictorial/mental image ofJesus, use your intuitive gift. Gently, slowly, relax each part of your body and tune in to your breathing in, your breathing out. As you breathe in, mentally form the word, "Jesus." As you breathe out, say, "I am yours." Rest in the dark awareness of Presence. There is no "timing" of this experience. Let it be short or long-just stay with it as long as it lasts. End your prayer time with, "Thank you, Jesus, for this refreshing time with you."
Use whatever gifts you have to be with Jesus. If you can create clear mental images, do so and gaze at the face ofJesus. If you cannot bring an image to mind, breathe steadily in and out, relax, and mentally whisper Jesus' name. Let the silence and the darkness of God's presence envelop you as if you were praying in a dark chapel at night, seeing nothing but sensing the real presence of God. End your prayer time by giving thanks.
See yourself as an infant, darling but helpless, in your mother's arms. See your mother reach out, holding you up to Jesus for his blessing. See Jesus take you in his arms and hold you close to his heart. If you cannot "see" this, recall the story of the mothers bringing their children to Jesus (Matthew 19:13-15 and Mark
10:13-16). Take time to be in that wonderful, dark and enfolding presence by relaxing with your breathing and mentally saying the Lord's name. Tell Jesus, "Hold me, Jesus. I am little and helpless, and I need you." Rest in that attitude, and then spend time thank ing God for the gift of prayer.
As you take time to be with Jesus today, call him by a name of your choosing-a love name that comes from your heart. Reflect on one of the following stories from the gospels: Mary at Jesus' feet, listening to all he has to say (Luke 10:38-42); Jesus calling Peter, Andrew-and you (Mark 1:15-18); Zacchaeus watching for Jesus from the sycamore tree (Luke 19:1-10); or one of your choice. Reflect in whatever way is best for you: images, quiet, dark of Presence. Be there for as long as your attention span allows. At the end of your prayer time, thank God from your heart.
Use a story from the gospels, and follow the same prayer method as
Come into the presence of God who is already with you. Use the story of the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8 and Matthew 17:1-8). Be there with Peter, James and John. Follow the same process you have used this week. At the end of your prayer time, thank God for God's love that encircles you always and for this special time of intimacy.