Both those who believe in God, or who are trying to believe, and atheists can begin any meditation with offering love and forgiveness to themselves. They can do this for poor or terrible choices they made that hurt their lives or the lives of others. Believers of any faith tradition and atheists of any stripe can then proceed in their meditation to offer love and best wishes to those they love the most. They can proceed over time by degree to offer love to wider and wider circles of people whether by ordinary reckoning such people deserve love and forgiveness or not. This is a shared path that anyone can walk and from which everyone will benefit.
For those who believe in God, and those who are wondering if they can find a way to believe, they can simply stay in this place of offering love in silence to all who live. If they wish to they can let the practice develop further by learning what it means to offer love in silence and stillness to God. For those who hold dear the witness and memory of Jesus of Nazareth I offer the following prayer poem. I was fortunate to be able to write this over the past few weeks. People of different faiths can adapt this language to their chosen images of divine life. Understandably this poem may not be too relevant to atheists other than as an example of literature to appreciate the way they might admire the architecture of a beautiful church but which they would not actually attend.
The general idea is to recite all or a portion of this prayer by reading it aloud or to memorize it and recite in silently within yourself as you begin to meditate. You can focus on one brief passage, or the stanza, or the entire piece.
You can simply recite the entire piece during meditation or you can narrow your focus down to a couple of lines or a single word as the mind calms and the breath slows. If you wish to, in deeper states of peace, you can simply let the words fall away and be present to the experience of being alone with God in the silence of your deepest heart.
You can adapt these words or use them as a starting point to craft your own divine poem.
I give my love to you O Lord Jesus Christ in acts of repentance and contrition that my soul may be washed clean in your mercy.
I give my love to you O Lord Jesus Christ in acts of atonement and the completeness of my acceptance of your gracious absolution.
I give my love to you O Lord Jesus Christ in acts of simple remembrance of your life and name during times of stillness and silence and throughout the active hours of my days.
I give my love to you O Lord Jesus Christ in the care I take to study the essential role humility plays in attaining the fullness of union with you.
I give my love to you O Lord Jesus Christ in the careful efforts I make to refine the quality of love, respect, and charity I offer to others and in the openness with which I seek to receive the love that you and others offer to me
I give my love to you O Lord Jesus Christ in times of joy and laughter in family and community gatherings, and in the solemn sacraments that mark the passages and seasons of this life.
I give my love to you O Lord Jesus Christ in the confusing and draining struggles of faith and doubt when I seek to discern your living presence in the midst of the suffering and violent injustice that scars so much of life in this world.
I give my love to you O Lord Jesus Christ in my prayers and petitions to be free from all passions and desires which conflict with the way of life I feel called to follow and honor.
I give my love to you O Lord Jesus Christ in the stumbling acts of renunciation where I seek to turn my heart and mind to you alone.
I give my love to you O Lord Jesus Christ in the silent embrace of divine union when our lives touch and then intermingle and are softly joined in the secret chambers of my deepest heart.
I give my love to you O Lord Jesus Christ in deepening acts of surrender to your gift of eternal life in the refuge of your sacred grace and perfect love.
For those who wish to simplify this to a couple of lines, especially after reciting it once or twice here are two of my suggestions:
I give my love to you O Lord Jesus Christ from the center of my heart to yours.
I give my love to you O Lord Jesus Christ now and forever amen.
Please let me know what you think or send in a prayer poem that you have written. My only request is that it be a poem or sacred phrase you use regularly during meditation rather than a poem you relate to as a fine literary selection.
will at meditation practice dot com ( spelled out to limit spam)