Contemplative Reawakening

Contemplation was originally in the Greek and early patristic understandings reserved for a kind of higher or noetic knowing, knowing through the nous, the eye of the heart. Sometimes it takes the form of visionary seeing, images, but more typically it is simply a kind of luminous, situational knowingness that can’t be attributed to any outside source. It becomes part of one’s own being…

Six Ways to Experience Contemplation Online

How does one maintain and deepen a contemplative stance in such a frenzied, virtual world? One obvious solution is to unplug. Put the phone away. Turn the computer off. Go for a walk. Keep the radio off on the commute to work. Don’t leave a window open with Facebook always tempting you to glance at the latest cat video or Star Trek meme. Even now you’re tempted (don’t do it!).

We all need to unplug from time to time. But I’ve also found that the Internet can be a place to deepen my prayer life and connection to God.

Here are six suggestions.

The Energy of Emotion

Today’s post is by Savannah Kate Coffey.

I sometimes sit by the ocean in the evening light when the air is soft and the clouds are pinky-orange. The youngest children have gone to bed. The sandcastles of this day are giving way to the fresh grainy canvas of tomorrow. Lovers walk holding hands. Vacationing families, freshly showered, gather in their white shirts and khakis for the yearly photo. There are a few gritty shore fishermen, beer in hand, hoping for a gift from the sea.

It occurs to me as I sit there how like the sandy shore our emotional lives can be. Often, seemingly out of nowhere, we are hit with wave after wave of emotion. It may be boredom and listlessness one minute, or longing and passion the next. Anger, sadness, loneliness, joy, love, elation, and disappointment all break upon the shores of our spirit sometimes relentlessly. Our emotions are a great gift, but I imagine there are times when we all wish we didn’t feel the way we do, or when it is simply difficult to balance the energy coursing through us. It is easy to understand wanting relief from painful emotions, but even the more desirable ones can be strong and overwhelming. I sometimes feel relieved on those days when the waves of feeling have been mild and the water warm.

The physicists have taught us that all matter is simply energy condensed into form. A baby is a beautiful example of the energy of desire becoming life and breath. Although we know physiologically how the process works, it all begins with energetic presence. We are learning there is “an energetic continuum running through all creation.” (Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Way of Knowing, p. 45) French Jesuit philosopher and biologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote that our suffering is actually potential energy that can be consciously offered to God as a gift. The energy of our pain becomes part of the “ascending force of the world,” fuel for the transformation of fear to love. This understanding also keeps us close to our elemental humanity, knowing that even our “failures” and setbacks are the instruments of grace on our behalf, enriching the soil of our lives from which we grow strong and beautiful.

Ordinary and Spiritual Awareness

By Cynthia Bourgeault. One of Shalem’s Honorary Council members for the 40-hour Contemplative Prayer Vigil, Cynthia Bourgeault is a modern day mystic, Episcopal priest, writer, and internationally known retreat leader, who divides her time between solitude at her Maine hermitage and traveling globally to teach and spread the recovery of the Christian contemplative and Wisdom path. […]