One Wednesday

Contemplation / Meditation in the midst of Community

At a gathering of the “Living School” in New Mexico in September 2014 at Santa Anna Pueblo along the Rio Grande River, the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, a Franciscan Friar, Richard Rohr, asked each student in this school to consider a project that would integrate and express the learnings and experiences from the first year of this school with Fr. Rohr, Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault and Dr. James Finley. Fr. Rohr described a process of discernment, in which the 180 students from around the globe would be grouped into quartets and over the next couple of months would support each other in trying to listen and look for the right project for each person. As soon as Fr. Rohr finished announcing this project, one person approached Fr. Rohr to share a possible project.

The images of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis praying silently together in the Vatican gardens on June 8, 2014 had left a deep imprint on the heart of this person. Fr. Richard’s invitation to discern an integration project seemed to be calling this person to see about asking local houses of worship to open their doors at 7pm for 30 minutes on the first Wednesday of each month for silent prayer. The gathering in the Vatican gardens may have been, in part, silent prayer since the 4 leaders each spoke a different first language and they are from 3 different faith traditions.

This student explained further that silent prayer may be best for this monthly gathering for two reasons. First, because it sometimes seems that as soon as we open our mouths, out spew doctrines and we tend to descend into Babel and union as one mystical body seems not to come through the left brain (at least not left on its own!). Second, in silent prayer, meditation or contemplation, there is an intentional gathering without agenda, without doctrines, without ego, without words. As those in neighborhoods are encouraged to gather at the house of worship that is open and nearest to where they live (and not necessarily where they worship), people will come together to pray in silence and in that, we may experience for that short time in that silent prayer, in that contemplation and in that communal meditation the one fundamental Truth that we are already in Union with one another, that we truly are all sisters and brothers, that we are all, in Truth, One.

Hearing about this idea for One Wednesday, another student, who lives on the outskirts of London, decided it would be worthwhile to develop something similar there. At the time of the launch of One Wednesday in America, on the first Wednesday of April 2015, the plans for this UK branch are underway; the first event there is due at the beginning of May 2015. This has been developed using the ‘Churches Together’ organization, and will therefore initially be a mainly Christian endeavor, with the plan to widen this to include people of all faiths and of none, so that it really reflects in the UK, too, that we are truly one community.