Gifts of Contemplation

As promised in an earlier post: Here are some of my journal entries, mildly edited, from the recent retreat to the Monterey Coast, along with some journaling/discussion prompts for you:

One gift of contemplation: A deeper and deeper awareness of and openness to the uniqueness, mystery, and depths of the true self within, yielding important insights for the journey that can result in a deeper and deeper “conversion” of the heart. Turning towards this“true self” results in a turning away from the tendencies of our culture towards hyper-activity or multi-tasking even when it isn’t necessary or value-adding, and other distractions that bring about or stem from the competitiveness, frustrations and angst so typical of the false self.

FOR YOUR JOURNAL/DISCUSSION/or to comment here at the blog: What are some gifts of contemplation for you? How have hyper-activity, multi-tasking, or some other modern habits affected your relationship with your true self?  With others?

Holidays give us the opportunity to create some space in which to “Be” conscious, more aware, understanding, freely all we are with ourselves, with others.

TO JOURNAL/DISCUSS: How are the holidays “gifting” you…as you gift others with sharing these days?

Considering the story of Mary and Martha from the Gospels…and how it was Mary who had chosen the better portion...

TO JOURNAL/DISCUSS: Who are you these days…more like Mary? More like Martha? How might you choose the better portion today?

In the November 2008 issue of “Shambala Sun Magazine,” Michael Higgins comments on the poem, “O Sweet Irrational Worship,” by Thomas Merton. In his commentary Higgins addresses Merton’s celebration of the liberation found in solitude, via a human spirit connecting with the purity of nature, her patterns and archetypes, separated from egocentrism and reunited with the true self. It is an amazingly sparse poem and typifies Merton’s unique gifts of writing contemplatively while bridging two and more faith traditions, Zen Buddhism and Christianity in this case.

I rarely keep whole issues of magazines, preferring the comparative lightness and simplicity of carrying tear-sheets and articles instead. Here I was, a year after the tearing, finally reading and attending to the insights contained in this important piece. And I couldn’t help thinking, all this time later, a different “me” reading the article than the “me” who had torn it out a year or more ago, how we can’t hold onto a moment or to life itself forever…and that is what makes this life and each moment so precious. What we can do is show up for our lives, even the difficult bits, show up more and increasingly more through a practice of contemplation, showing up for every possible moment and the insights there, allowing the gifts and graces we encounter to permeate and transform us.

So this is what I call "walking up and tasting the 'present,'" intending the pun, tasting the sacred uniqueness that would never be...if not for your unique awareness of and presence with Sacredness here, now, witnessing, choosing the better portion as Mary did. Tasting the present, we witness, honor, or at least acknowledge it, this moment, our uniqueness, or specialness, or insights, that might further the conversation, or healing, or conversion of the heart.  How often, stripped of masks and distractions, do we, might we honor, being present to, all this and more in ourselves, in others, day by day?