Contemplating Contemplation

All is silent.
In the still and soundless air,
I fervently bow
To my Almighty God.

We’ve become awful listeners.  Notice I say we–which puts me at the top of the list.  When we talk to one another about how we’ve become so very poor at listening to one another, there’s always a laundry list of whys, much of which gets focused on electronic media and the busy-ness of our lives.

I don’t think it matters why.  That’s a rabbit trail of noisiness all on its own.  I think it’s always been easy not to listen to one another, and I think it’s created within us to do better.

As a priest, specifically in leadership with our younger Christians this week, I am passionate about helping us learn to listen to God.  I suspect that if we become better God-listeners, we’ll also become better listeners everywhere.

Each day at our prayer station in Vacation Bible School, we sit on the floor, get ourselves comfortable, and pray a centering prayer–All is silent. In the still and soundless air, I fervently bow to my Almighty God.  I ring a bell, and for a short period of time we are all invited to contemplate God–that is listen, and not speak.  Then the bell rings, and we are done.

This kind of prayer the visioneers learned is called contemplative prayer.  Yesterday we talked about distractions, and we learned to use a prayer word to help us stay centered, and to return us to our place of contemplation when we stray–as we all do.

I’m full of wonder of how easy these wiggly little people get still and mostly listen.  It’s easier than I thought it would be to pray contemplatively with them.  

Yesterday as I was getting ready to leave for VBS, I peered out my window and noticed that my night-blooming cereus, which had struggled through our exceptionally cold winter, had put out it’s first bloom in at least a couple of years.  If I’m not paying attention, I’ll miss this rare bloom; the flower opens up during the night, and is wilted soon after sunrise.  It was a good reminder of how essential showing up silently and expectantly to God is.  I may go a long, long time without “hearing” anything–but when I do, oh the wonder and beauty!

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