So what exactly is contemplation? Think about it as an experience in prayer of being directly connected with God. You are not only aware of God’s presence, but you experience yourself as being truly loved by God. This may also include feelings of being deeply known by God, forgiven for past failings, overwhelmed with the beauty of God and God’s Creation. And above all, you feel closely held by God in a loving embrace. The contemplative experience is often wordless, peaceful and at times quite powerful. It may only last a moment. But you remember it, perhaps for all your days.
Where might you have this kind of experience? Anywhere! Certainly in the quiet of a church or chapel, but also at home, during a quiet walk, sitting quietly by the side of a clear flowing mountain stream or anywhere you find peace and quiet.
Here’s some advice. Don’t try with all your might to experience this kind of prayer. When it happens, it will be, first of all, God’s gift to you. What God needs of you is a quiet moment when you are not overly distracted by the demands of your daily life. God also wants your desire. You simply want to spend some time with God. Ask God to come to you, or better, asks God to quiet your heart and open your eyes to God’s presence that is already there. God is always close to us, but we have to notice, be aware and be still. There used to be signs at railroad crossings that said: Stop, look and listen. That is also a way to deep contemplative prayer. Stop the noise in your life. Look at yourself and God’s beautiful world where you are. And listen for God’s favorite words, I love you.
David Thomas, PhD
St. Richard Parish, Columbia Falls