Friday, May 16, 2008

The Contemplative life (Part 1)

I recently attended a clergy event at the Christian Healthcare Center. The subject was Contemplation: finding the inner hermit. The presenter was excellent to reflect on several points in upcoming entries.

The first truly provocative thing he shared was that the development of intimacy within relationship requires time be spent in the presence of the one with whom you are in relationship. Okay--not so profound, but it is something I find easy to forget when it comes to a relationship with God.

I remember my first "real" date with my wife. Okay--we were seminary nerds, so the evening began normal with dinner, then we were going to go see NC State's production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." But we never arrived. I guess you might say a funny thing happened on the way to "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"--Our directions took us to the wrong theater and we never found the correct one. So we returned to Durham talking all the while about theology, how we experienced God, and ultimately the role of the church in ministries of social justice (like I said, "nerds"). As we talked, we purposefully drove through some of the more dangerous parts of Durham. Once we settled the issue, we went for ice cream. We had been talking nonstop, and were having a great time. By the time we sat down with our ice cream, it seemed as though there was nothing left to be said. And so each of us sat there with nothing left to say--our first silence. So we just ate ice cream. Later we reflected on the moment and agreed that being okay with silence in the presence of one another was a good thing.

How often are our times with God as rushed as the rest of our lives. Most of us feel as though we do well if we can sit down and breeze through a couple of scriptures, quickly confess a few imperfections then offer a laundry list of things we would like from God. It occurs to me that no other relationship works this way. Imagine a typical prayer time--can you imagine what kind of relationship you would have with someone if that was how you communicated with them?

Heres hoping to getting lost with God--just meandering without a destination for a while--looking to be in the presence of my creator--not so that something will be accomplished, but so that through intimacy with the holy I might come to better reflect the image of the one who formed me.


Anonymous said...

Okay--not so profound, but it is something I find easy to forget when it comes to a relationship with God.

Still quite profound! I don't know if it's so much that I forget, I just don't make the time. Then again, I will feel guilty because it's not 'doing something'. Prayer, for all we talk about it, doesn't always to be a practical way forward. I remember suggesting prayer to one of my churches and the response came back, but what are we going to do? I can't be hard on them, because I can get caught in that same thought pattern sometimes.

Eric Helms said...

I think we may be in the same place with this! I guess as long as we think we really are at the center of and in control of what we accomplish, then prayer seems a waste of time. However, if we believe God is working through us, then perhaps prayer is the most important part of our calling.