Welcoming Myself Back to Work

Much of Sabbatical has been about learning to "let go."Never have I found a more appropriate prayer for my first day back to work after a long sabbatical than the Welcome Prayer by Father Thomas Keating. At the first reading, you might be tempted to say, "What a nice prayer." And then move on. But Gwen and I have sat with this prayer on an intentional basis for the past few months. We have attempted to excavate the meaning and suck the marrow out of each phrase and sentence.It is rich. It is deep and it is transformational.Here it is:The Welcoming Prayer (by Father Thomas Keating)Welcome, welcome, welcome.I welcome everything that comes to me todaybecause I know it's for my healing.I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,situations, and conditions.I let go of my desire for power and control.I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,approval and pleasure.I let go of my desire for survival and security.I let go of my desire to change any situation,condition, person or myself.I open to the love and presence of God andGod's action within. Amen.To Welcome this day, our first day back to work means to enter this with no regret, apprehension or fear. It, the first day, the first week and the first season is for me. It is for my good. It is not for my demise.For my healing... returning to my work is also a part of my healing and transformation as much as our season of rest has been. Now, I can live out of the fruit of what has been gathered. I can also begin to integrate these precious truths into my work--not just my time off.The Welcoming of all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations and conditions---means for me, that I believe in a God that is good and is not ought to bring me down or to step back and watch my life spin out of control. God is vested in the process of everyday encounters.I let go--much of my work over sabbatical has been right here. To learn how to let go and to release things, people, my past and my future into the hands of God. Knowing that I cannot control these things helps me to learn to loosen my grip. The three sentences in the prayer that speak of "letting go" really are the three temptations of Jesus: the temptation for power; the temptation for approval; the temptation for security. I, too, will work through these temptations as I work--and being tempted to lean into each of these areas to find love, approval and security. To let go--is my daily business.I open myself---believing in a God who is good and who loves me allows me to become open. I open myself to the love and goodness of God. It is my intention to live each day in this posture and I consent to my participation of the work of my transformation.I posted this book on Facebook recently and got many "likes." Now, I regret doing it. I don't think this prayer or perhaps any prayer can simply be liked. The Welcome Prayer undoes us. I truly believe that this prayer can't be just read and put down. It will mess with you. It has with me. And isn't this, perhaps, the greatest purpose of prayer?