Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Contemplative Life

Yesterday I had an idea that today would be a good day to think and write about being more contemplative this year. I'd love to slow down, to think more, to pray more, and to live more in the moment this year. Maybe I'm searching for an area to focus on this year, a resolution beyond the goals I make (and usually break) each year. I think we all need more quiet in our lives, whether we consciously realize it or not.

And then I read this quote:

"The quest for a contemplative life can actually be self-absorbed, focused on my quiet and me. If we love people and have the power to help, then we are going to be busy. Learning to pray doesn't offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer busyness we can develop an inner quiet. Because we are less hectic on the inside, we have a greater capacity to love...and thus to be busy, which in turn drives us even more into a life of prayer."--Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life 

Wow. He is so right. Some days I find myself thinking, if only I didn't have all these kids around all day, imagine how much I could get done! and then God's still, small voice reminds me, these kids are my job! They are not interruptions keeping me from more important things on my to-do list, they are the top thing on my to-do list. Life with 5 kids and a freelance job and friends is going to be busy. Life with one kid would be busy. So would life with a full-time job and no kids. There's no way around it. There are messes to clean up and deadlines to meet and social obligations to fulfill. There are people counting on us in one way or another.

But what I long for is a quiet heart in the midst of that. I don't need to fight the good busyness (although I do think there is a busyness I can put on myself that is full of things God hasn't put on my to-do list--more on that another time). I need to develop a quiet heart that will carry me through my busy days with grace and patience, that will leave me unruffled by the demands others place on me and unconcerned when I fail to meet their expectations.

I think the way in to that quiet heart is a journey into the heart of prayer. So as I look at the year ahead, the thing I want to work on is not finding more time for quiet or focusing on building a contemplative life, but prayer. Not quietness as an end in itself, but prayerfulness in the midst of busyness. And hopefully the outgrowth from that will be a quietness of heart that will bless those around me.

1 comment:

  1. I think I know what you mean...I am always striving to be more mindful, and sometimes I have to remind myself that does not just mean going off to be alone in silent meditation! I can be mindful by being truly present with my children, listening carefully to them, looking into their eyes when they are interrupting my oh-so-important task. I read a great quote once, a "mantra" of sorts to repeat when the house is chaotic. "Deep within me is a well of peacefulness which cannot be disturbed."
    Thanks for visiting my blog post and for your thoughtful comment. I will be back!