‘Thinking’ is not just some ‘linear thing’ people do. There is a kind of thinking called ‘contemplation’ in which one ponders one’s being and one’s fit with the world. We deplete ourselves if we restrict ourselves to just a human-doing. Getting a comfortable sense of being requires some work – work that is never busy-busy but work that is mainly about ‘being still and knowing that God is God’ and coming to a firm understanding that we are not.
The paradox of knowing that we are one with God is that we realise the truth of our sonship. People are not sons in the law. They are workers and slaves. But in the Spirit, which is oneness with God, they are sons in spirit and in truth.
NOT SPACE/TIME DEPENDENT
Once we know what ‘contemplation’ is we can do it without being a hermit. You might do it looking out the window of the train on the way into the city. We can do it any time we make a break in our routine. Or on a holiday. Yet there is a deeper contemplation that is beneficial if we wish to break the cycle of incessant activity and take stock.
TO BE STILL IN THE WILD
Thomas Merton writes, “Teilhard de Chardin has developed a remarkable mystique of secularity which is certainly necessary for our time when the vast majority of men have no choice but to seek and find God in the busy world. But where did Teilhard acquire this perspective? In the deserts of Asia, in vast solitudes which were in many ways more " monastic" than the cloisters of our monastic institutions. So too Bonhoeffer, regarded as an opponent of all that monasticism stands for, himself realized the need for certain "monastic" conditions in order to maintain a true perspective in and on the world. He developed these ideas when he was awaiting his execution in a Nazi prison.” (1)
PEACE AND AGENCY
This union with God is more ‘Sabbath’ than any formality of the Sabbath. Many Sabbath keepers have never experience a real spirit of Sabbath or a Sabbath life. Union with God differs from the Jewish Sabbath in that it may be had all the time and any time. The original Sabbath, before there were any Jews was Adam and Eve’s fellowship with God. The Greater Sabbath since the cross and the incarnation is an interwoveness with God that exceeds what Adam and Eve had with God.
AN INNER YOU
Nearly all those who make a difference in the outer life have an inner life that is alive with imagination and agency. Yet contemplation is more than creative thought. It is the joining of your mind to God’s being and mind. It’s the experience of sonship as a state of being that transcends ‘the when and the where’ that you happen to be.
THERE IS MORE TO YOU
Every one can manage a degree of contemplation even if not all are contemplatives. For many it would be the difference between being a superficial person and a person of substance.
Richard Rohr would agree that the satisfaction of passing from the false self to the true self is enhanced by contemplation. We will not have much of substance to offer the world by way of the sharing of the self and spirituality until we have made this transition. It’s largely to do with being born again but not entirely. It is being still and knowing God and being still enough to know yourself in God and in the world. Sadly, many folk don’t experience this kind of ‘knowing’ until hours before their death. But with a little focus we can make it a way of life.
(1) Merton, T. Contemplation in a world of Action.