By Kevin Greer
Lakeside Communications Manager
After working nearly three decades as a lawyer, Tom Frost thought about his future. He enjoyed what he was doing but was ready for a change.
Frost ended his law career in the Washington, D.C. area and enrolled at nearby Wesley Theological Seminary, where he earned both master’s and Doctor of Ministry degrees.
“In my legal career, I was fortunate to be able to do a lot of fun stuff,” Frost said. “But I also was very much aware of a desire to do something in the last part of my working life that was more others focused.”
Frost was a pastor at a small church near Charlottesville, Virginia, for 10 years and retired in 2019. Before moving to the nation’s capital region, most of Frost’s time was spent in Ohio. He grew up in Canfield, went to undergrad at Miami University, where he met his wife, Carol, and attended law school at the University of Akron.
The Frosts started visiting Lakeside in 1987. After their friends moved away from Northeast Ohio, the Frosts didn’t want to stop coming to Lakeside. They purchased their friends’ cottage and have owned it since August 1994.
“We were drawn to Lakeside as a family place and as a place of spiritual retreat,” Frost said. “Our children spent so many summers here, and Lakeside has almost become for them what they think of as home. Despite the various locations where we moved from time to time, we’ve always come back to Lakeside.”
Now retired and spending more time in Lakeside, Frost has taken an active role in the Religious Life Pillar as the Spiritual Director. Along with all his other degrees, he completed a program on spiritual guidance, and for the last three years has put that knowledge to use every week with Lakesiders.
Centering Prayer invites people to listen and cultivate awareness of the continuing presence of God. Members of the community gather to support each other in this practice of prayerful listening. During the summer, the group meets at 8 a.m. Thursdays at the Dr. George Beebe Telescope patio near Hotel Lakeside along Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile. Centering Prayer is also available via Zoom part of the year and gives Lakesiders the opportunity to stay connected from September to late May.
The morning begins with the attendees, ranging from 8-12 Lakesiders, greeting each other. They allow themselves to let go of everything that’s swirling about inside each other, then find a center so they can develop and enhance the awareness of the presence of God.
Frost says once the group gets into a time of quiet, it’s normal for the mind to be off running somewhere else in only 5-10 seconds. There may be a short reading that helps in that process, and participants are sometimes encouraged to select a word or a phrase that will help everybody get centered. After about 20 minutes, the bells ring again and brings everybody back to the present time and space. There may be a brief time of sharing among everyone, then they greet each other one more time and the session ends.
“Centering Prayer is an opportunity for us to stop the speaking part and just enjoy being in the presence of God,” Frost said. “Sometimes it involves soliciting for God’s direction to us.”
While it may sound like Centering Prayer is a bit of a stress reliever, Frost stopped short of calling it that.
“There are certainly a number of parallels between this and other forms of what you might hear as mindfulness practice,” Frost said. “But the object is not necessarily to achieve a particular emotional state.”
Rev. Dr. Charles Yoost, Lakeside’s Senior Director of Religious Life & Pastoral Care, is pleased to have Centering Prayer as part of the Religious Life offerings. He says Frost is the right person to be at the helm of the weekly prayer session.
“We’re fortunate to have Rev. Tom Frost lead the Centering Prayer experience throughout the year,” Yoost said. “Prayer is a vitally important part of the life of faith. Many of us learned that ‘prayer is talking with God.’ However, that is only half true. Prayer is also God talking with us. Centering Prayer emphasizes the ‘listening’ aspect of prayer, spending quiet, focused time opening our minds and hearts to what God may be saying to us.”
Frost is grateful to have the opportunity to lead Centering Prayer and be a part of Lakeside’s Religious Life programming.
“I want to throw out a word of gratitude to Charlie Yoost and the Religious Life Pillar for being supportive of the Centering Prayer ministry and the spiritual direction,” Frost said. “One of the areas of involvement that I’ve found very meaningful has been to help Charlie in the Religious Life Pillar as Spiritual Director and starting the Centering Prayer.”