Songs of the soul
Students take a breath at final Torrey Conference session. | Chak Hee Lo/THE CHIMES
Todd Pickett began the hour of reflection and prayer with a call to breathe — appropriate, considering the theme of Torrey Conference 2017, pneuma, which means breath or wind in Greek. As we engaged in a breathing exercise, we thought of our favorite name for God as we exhaled, addressing him while taking into account that we have bodies as well as minds and spirits.
Our time of reflection and prayer became interwoven with song, or, as Pickett defined it, unceasing prayer. He said that it is okay if the words we sing do not ring true for us at the moment. Rather, singing as prayer can be a way to be honest with ourselves. In accordance with the first verse of Romans 8, there is “no condemnation,” but rather good information.
Pickett encouraged students to imagine they were at a lake or a river, sitting on a dock or shore. God sits beside us, and he could be in the form of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. I imagined the lake at which I was baptized, Roosevelt Lake in Arizona. The sunset was pink and sent golden light over the hills spotted with desert brush. Ripples rimmed in light moved towards us on the shore. Jesus sat beside me, and we both had our knees pulled to our chests. I could see the wound on his hand. The exercise called us to be present with God, to let distracting boats pass us by. Pickett then advised us to sing as though we were singing to God.
Next, we remembered those who have been instrumental in our spiritual lives, thanking God for them. We also thought of a person who could mentor us now, someone who could help us continue to sing God’s praises with our lives.
To close the last session of the 2017 Torrey Conference, Pickett instructed us to think of a sentence or more about something we want to praise God for. Several people made the journey to the microphone to breathe out their praises to God.
With one last song and a blessing from Pickett, we departed.