Contemplation is about waking up. Simply defined, to be contemplative is to experience an event fully, in all its aspects. Biblically this is expressed as knowing “face to face.” What is implied in that phrase … is that we are in contemplation when we stand before reality and experience it without the limits and distortions that are created by narcissism, pragmatism, and excessive restlessness. Ronald Rolheiser, The Shattered Lantern
Prayer wakes us up to what is so, not to our dreams, illusions, wishes, and desires for what is so, but to the sacred reality of each moment.
How grim you may think. How boring – this dirty kitchen, this cluttered desk, this sagging body, this pock-marked, disappointing, and flailing world? From here it is a short, sad trip to the dark pit of the if onlys, the why nots, and maybe whens. Or perhaps I look around for someone or some event to blame for my shabby reality. Maybe I plot a way to get even, or tune out and play a game on my cell phone, fool around on Facebook, go shopping, or eat something.
We live in a culture which makes an art and a virtue out of avoiding the truth of our deep need, our sadness, grief, and anger – at what? Let’s put it like this: at being human. For buried beneath much of our striving, stress, and anxiety I often discover a kind of contempt for ourselves and our vulnerability. We persistently look outwardly for relief for the painful human condition, which plays neatly into the agenda of our culture of consumption, as we seek to find our worth through other persons, power, prestige, and possessions.
Over time prayer may eventually shatter such agendas and expose their superficiality and ultimate inability to satisfy our deep need. We find ourselves sitting in the midst of reality, still mundane, yet strangely shot through with beauty, wonder, and joy.
“You are a ruby embedded in granite. How long will you pretend it’s not true?” asks the poet Rumi. Contemplative prayer wakes us up to see through the granite of illusion to the splendor of the ruby.
In gratitude to Praying Life readers and to all who comment, like, and share our posts here, please help yourself to a free pdf version of the most recent issue of Holy Ground Winter 2013. This issue is about waking up and finding that ruby.
If you find this to be something you would like to receive on a regular basis, please subscribe! You can receive your own copy delivered to your home mailbox or electronically online. Just indicate which version you prefer in the drop down box when you subscribe.
By subscribing you will also help support The Sanctuary Foundation as it reaches out to people of many faith traditions to nourish inner peace in a chaotic and complex world. We cannot do it without you. Really.