“To become a contemplative, a daily schedule of religious events and practices is not enough. We must begin to do life, to be with people, to accept circumstances, to bring good to evil in ways that speak of the presence of God in every moment.” (Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light p.535).
All of us are in circumstances of one kind or another that we would love to change. We want more money. We want what the world tries to sell us; and all too often succeeds. Something bigger, better, faster, something more efficient. We want to solve our most urgent of problems by changing events of the past. Some of us go about living in a state in which accepting what is in our past is something we try to avoid.
A very wise person gave me what I believe is a paraphrase of something said by Buddhists. “Much of our suffering is because of our refusal to accept what is.” Jesus Himself has something to say that is comparable. “Today has enough problems of its own; tomorrow can look after itself” (read Matthew 6:31-34).
Contemplative prayer and the mystical experience at its best, brings us face to face with what is, as it is. Contemplative prayer invites us to see God in the midst of joy and sadness. Peace and calamity. In moments when every thing seems to make sense. In moments when everything we thought made sense; suddenly becomes something we cannot begin to make sense of.
God is here. God is there. God is moving on us. God is calling us to a renewal of relationship with God in the here and now. The contemplative vision and experience waits patiently to show us the way towards a conversion of heart and life; from God’s point of view. Not our own.
How are you contemplating and seeking the presence of God in your own life today?
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB