Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Art of Contemplation

The art of contemplation often begins with the practice of meditation such as thinking about some aspect of the life of Christ, or a verse of scripture read in the morning readings.

“The self, concentrated upon the image or idea, dwelling upon it more than thinking about it—as one may gaze upon a picture that one loves—falls gradually and insensibly into the condition of reverie . . . and becomes gathered together.” Mysticism, Evelyn Underhill, Page 213.

You might find a prayer journal helpful, where you can write each day, noting a special verse of scripture that you read that morning, or a paragraph from your spiritual reading book that grabs your attention. Then when you come to your time of contemplation you can take these words and dwell on them in your heart and spirit, listening to what your soul tells you about them, until such time as you become lost in God’s silent love.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Adventures of the Spiritual Life

“Recollection,” says Evelyn Underhill, “is the traditional term by which mystical writers define the voluntary concentration, a first collecting or gathering in of the attention of the self to its most hidden cell. That self is as yet unacquainted with the strange plane of silence which so soon becomes familiar to those who attempt even the lowest activities of the contemplative life, where the self is released from [constant thought], and the noises of the world are never heard, and the great adventures of the spirit take place.” Mysticism Page 212.

We have to gather ourselves in to the centre of our being in order to prepare ourselves for the contemplative life. This is where we find the silent place where God dwells in us. Silence is not a familiar place for many of us but as we seek to be with God silence becomes a sought after and familiar venue.

First we must turn off the outward noises that may surround us—the radio, the T.V., the telephone, the cell phone—we get so used to these being a part of our life that we may be afraid we might miss something if we turn these things off. But, when our prayer time is finished and we turn these sound makers back on we will soon catch up on any missed communications.

During our tryst with God, even our thoughts need to be quieted. We may not be aware of how much our brain chatters on in continuous thought as we go about our tasks, but when we come to be with God in contemplation we become very aware of how our thoughts get in the way of just being with God.

Don’t fret about it; just keep returning to the silence where you desire to be with God and God desires to be with you. It will happen; it takes preparation, time, and practice.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Discovering the Soul

“We discover the soul,” says Richard Rohr. “We don’t go there to make ourselves holy; we wake our souls up. We’re already united with God; the problem is, we don’t believe it. . . We continually try to be good people. In reality we are not always good, but we are holy . . . we’re holy because we came forth from God.” Simplicity Page 93.

We were born in holiness; we were already holy in God when we came to earth. That’s who we were before we were born—we were holy—and that’s who we were when we were born; before we did anything good or bad, we were holy. And that’s who we still are; we are holy. This is what really is.

“The best definition I know for contemplation,” Richard Rohr tells us, “is as follows: Contemplation is a long loving look at what really is.” Simplicity Page 92.

The practise of the art of contemplation for the Christian begins with small steps. It requires first of all a discipline of daily attendance at a time of prayer. We have to discover a routine through which we can find God and hear God’s voice. Through Bible reading, spiritual reading, and prayer, we come to know God’s loving purpose for us and begin to remember the holiness with which we were born, who we were before we came into the world, and who we really are now. 

Who we really are now is “holy”. Don’t be afraid to claim this holiness that is God’s gift to each one of us.

© Judith Lawrence

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Journey of the Soul

The journey of the soul begins with the daily attendance at private prayer. This is where the soul fills its pouch for the day’s travel and tops itself up for life’s pilgrimage. This is where the soul receives its spiritual food and drink for its daily strength and nourishment.

As in any physical pilgrimage one couldn’t get very far without rest, water, and food, so it is in the spiritual pilgrimage—one needs time to rest in God, and nourishment in the form of Bible reading and prayer.

It is best to make a regular time and place, if that is possible, for your prayer time with God. After a while, this routine time and place becomes a special part of your tryst with God, a time and place that you don’t want to miss, a time and place to which you look forward, and a time and place that builds a relationship between you and the Sacred One.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Being a Mystic in an Everyday Life

Caroline Myss says, "We don't want to renounce family or friends. In short, we want to be mystics without monasteries." (Entering the Castle P. 14)

We want to pray; we want to be contemplatives; we want to be united with God, each in our own unique way, while still living in the world.

"They (contemplatives) are here," says Eckhart Tolle, "to generate consciousness through the activities of daily life, through their interactions with others as well as through 'just being'. . . . Their task is to bring spacious stillness into the world by being absolutely present in whatever they do. There is consciousness and therefore quality in what they do, even the simplest task. Their purpose is to do everything in a sacred manner." (A New Earth P. 307)

What I write here in this blog is for the purpose of sharing with readers a way of living and praying the contemplative Christian life without it being necessary to enter a convent or leave your everyday life.

I will also expand on what I have written in my newest spiritual book, Highway of Holiness: Soul Journey.