For me, contemplative prayer or meditation is the stance of opening my heart, mind, and spirit to the divine … the source of all life and love … that which connects all beings on earth and in other realms. Each morning, George (our Shih Tzu) and I begin the day in meditation in the chapel and then do some gentle stretching. I light a stick of incense and an oil lamp (that I got many years ago while on retreat at Loyola House in Guelph) to help focus my attention and remind me that the light of Jesus is always with me.
And then I listen for the quiet whispers of the Spirit between wondering if I put bread on the grocery list, day-dreaming about a hike I want to take, fretting over a snippy email I sent, and so many other mental antics. I’m always grateful to hear great teachers like Pema Chodron or Archbishop Tutu confess to similar experiences in contemplation. In Charlotte Joko Beck’s posthumously published Ordinary Wonder: Zen Life and Practice, I learned to chuckle with amusement at my funny mind and all the places it roams within 25 minutes! No judgment, no blame just an early morning chance to see my silliness while George looks bored.
My favorite time to be in the chapel is in the very early morning or at twilight because the darkness provides a sense that I’m being held in the womb of God. It feels safer to see my mental silliness or stronger thought patterns that create suffering for myself or others. I feel less exposed when I repent (a daily practice in Zen and Christian communities) of the ways that I cause harm to myself and others in body, speech, and thought. In the gentle candle light, the dark holds me as I admit these places where I need Spirit’s strength and grace to help me grow.
I hope you’ll come and sit with us some morning. For me, the only thing more nurturing than a time of contemplation is when a few folks join us. Together we can chuckle and squiggle on the mat, and take comfort in knowing that we are never alone.
Big hugs and blessings to you 🤗