When Jesus turned and saw (John’s Disciple) following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. (John 1:38-39. NRSV).
A certain brother came to Abba Moses in Scetis, seeking at word from him, and the old man said to him, “Go and sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything.” (Daily Readings with the Desert Fathers, p. 64).
Our problem is that we spend too much time seeking God in all the wrong places. We, like the disciples come looking for Jesus and ask where He is staying. Jesus’ reply to them and us is “come and see.” God is indeed everywhere around us. The things we do, the people we see and the things we use all have an element of God’s work. But, these are not ends in and of themselves. They are not beginnings and stopping points. They are merely tools for the trade.
Jesus wants us to search for union with God, with purity of heart. To seek God for the sake of God alone, because of who God is; not what God can do. To begin the search, we must first go into the heart of ourselves in solitude and silence and allow God to transform us from our sacred space on outward.
The point of Contemplative Prayer, of Centering Prayer is to live in the Presence of God in the here and now, by finding where Jesus is staying within us. We must first take the important step of letting go of all that keeps us from asking Jesus “where are you staying?” When we hear Jesus call us from within, we are drawn into the mystical experience of the joy of God having found us to united us to an intimate and new life-giving love.
“The first step of humility is to keep the consciousness of God before us at all times, and never forget it.” (The Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 7, On Humility, paraphrased).
Have you asked Jesus “where are you staying” from your heart, so He can say to you “come and see?”
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB