Contemplation? No, that’s not for me. That’s for quiet, reclusive people. That’s for those serious, religious people. Not to offend those that really love the word “contemplation,” but it brings to mind an image of navel gazing. In fact, if you look up the definition of the word, some dictionaries actually refer to navel gazing.
For years, I’ve resisted the word “contemplation.” Sometimes situations or words get under our skin because they have a lesson to teach us. I’m thinking that’s the case with this word.
Recently I discovered a passage from Thomas Merton (a spiritual guru whom I admire but don’t really “get”):
“Contemplation is life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent, and infinitely abundant source. Contemplation is above all, awareness of the reality of that source. It knows the Source, obscurely, inexplicably, but with a certitude that goes beyond reason and beyond simple faith…” (Seeds of Contemplation)
WOW. Although this passage is pretty deep, there are some words that jump out at me: wonder, awe, awake, alive, invisible, Source. These are all words that I LOVE. Not only does he use some of my favorite words, Merton describes a life that I desire and aspire to. And his description has nothing to do with being reclusive, overly serious or navel-gazing.
Merton describes a way of being and living that is available to all of us. Imagine if we could live like this! We’d be engaged with real life. We would awaken to the fact that there is that of God in all things. We’d be tuned into wonder. We’d be overflowing with gratitude. Everyone we meet would be able to sense this alive-ness within us. We would be almost glowing!
So maybe it’s time to claim contemplation. Or at least open the door to it and get to know it better (Part1). Then perhaps it could become part of our everyday lives in a way that makes difference in the world.
More to come. Stay tuned.