Monday, 8 October 2012

Being Contemplative

In the last few days I have been revisiting the first topic we covered in the Graduate Diploma in Spiritual Direction that I have now almost completed. That topic, that has been the foundation on which everything else has been built, is being contemplative. Thomas Merton, in 'New Seeds of Contemplation', describes contemplation as follows.


""Contemplation is the highest expression of [a person's] intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness, and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that lie and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, an awareness of the reality of the Source."
I remember our first residential retreat, after talking about contemplation for a while, we were sent out to spend some time practicing being contemplative. I was quite used to sitting in nature and being in the presence of the Divine. I was looking around me at the beauty and the wonder of creation, but the one thing I noticed was what I heard. I could hear the wind approaching through the trees before I could see it's effects or feel it on my face. In many ways it was not an unusual experience, but as I sat I found myself listening intently and then closing my eyes to feel the gentle breeze I knew was about to meet me.

I guess being contemplative in life is about always being ready to experience the gentle breeze of that infinitely abundant Source. The times in my life where I seem to have really understood how to live contemplatively, I have been more aware and awake to the movements of the Divine in my life. At other times, when I get caught up with the busyness of life, I miss the cues that the Divine is near and don't recognize the gentle breeze when it passes me.









For me, being contemplative is about a way of life, As Merton puts it, it is life, fully awake, fully active and fully aware. It is about having my eyes open, my ears attuned and my heart inclined

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