“The temptation to separate contemplation and activity has hounded Christianity from the beginning, and from the beginning it has been rejected. When the disciples wanted to take up arms, Jesus pointed them to the cross, to God’s way of love and forbearance, so that they might remove the plank from their own eye before poking another’s eyes out. When the disciples wanted to hide behind locked doors, to wall themselves off from the clamoring world, Jesus penetrated through and sent them out into the world’s danger. …Without first learning to retreat, one’s advancing becomes chaotic, confused, and contentious. Without knowing how to advance, one’s spiritual life becomes flimsy, sentimental, and tiresome. In contemplation, there must be decisive, prophetic action; in action, there must be openness, recollection, and prayer. Contemplative practice is not the domain of the lazy priest or the indolent monk. Living a contemplative life certainly means guarding against undue stresses and frenetic activity, but a life that is contemplative is not just a life lived at ease. Though relaxation, poise, and the quelling of free-floating anxiety can be by-products of a deep contemplative practice, these are not its goals. On the contrary, the contemplative is a soldier and her practice is preparation for, and the certainty of, a face-to-face confrontation with evil. The contemplative runs from the distractions of the world only to expose the clamor of evil and sin in the quiet of stillness and the light of an unwavering gaze—to confront there the enemy face-to-face as if in a mirror. In other words, she meets the enemy in her own heart. Realizing that I and my foe are one sheds a wholly different light on the command to forgive one’s enemies and pray for one’s persecutors, even as it brings to its logical conclusion the need to love one’s neighbor as oneself. If we can face the enemy with forbearance in the crucible of contemplative practice in a safe place of prayer, we will learn to face him anywhere. …Self-gifting love is the true goal of contemplative practice, not self-actualization….” James Krueger
Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.”
- Unfortunately, most people naturally gravitate towards either activism without contemplation or the opposite. How about you?
- Do you reject unloving activism as problematic–necessarily futile and transgressive?
- Do you renounce self-centered contemplation as clueless–controverting God’s ultimate purpose?
Abba, help me learn this sacred rhythm.
For More: “This Restless Sea….” by James Krueger
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)