Let me begin, by way of introduction, with another’s introduction.
Thomas Keating opens his treatise on the way of contemplation, Open Heart, Open Mind, with this simple statement.“Contemplation is the place where God makes all things possible.”
Contemplation, in its simplest analysis, is the spiritual arena that lies beyond our own personal efforts, where knowledge exists that cannot be obtained through the well worn pathways of intellectual acquisition. As this arena is both unique to each human in construct, and yet, mystically woven together with the playgrounds of all others who reach out in this way, it serves both the purposes of the individual who find themselves within it, and simultaneously, serves the greater good of all humanity.
Contemplation is a spiritual practice, and as such, it exemplifies the grounding principles of the universe - reciprocity, interconnectedness, and mutuality. God, as Keating has used the word here, and as he further illuminates it in his various writings, is both representative of the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition from which he comes, as well as embracing Allah, The Great Mother, The Other and all other names and entities within the religious world. But too, the sense of the divine is not confined to those within formal, doctrinal religions but expands to include all those who do not fit comfortably inside any faith tradition, but have some understanding, however little, that there are things to be known beyond what we can see and taste and touch, and which serves to enlighten our more noble selves, at the same time it extends compassion to our baser nature. Contemplation opens up the possibilities of the infinite.
I think we are all in need of quiet contemplation at this time of year - well, at all times of the year, but the quiet of the deep winter lends itself to this practice. So, I have chosen as my daily devotion for 2019 The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living, Excerpts from the Works of Father Thomas Keating, O.S.C.O., compiled by S. Stephanie Iachetta.
Working with a short scripture to guide the reader through the day as a mantra, Keating expands on the chosen phrase, in his gentle, thoughtful way. Here below is a sample reading from January 10th. And also, a short video made in the days before Thomas Keating's death this last fall.
Bring Christ into the World
Immanuel. . . means, "God with us."
What is the great thing that Our Lady (Mary) has done for us? She brought the Word of God into the world, or rather let Him come into the world through her. It is not so much what we do but what we are that allows Christ to live in the world. When the presence of God emerges from our inmost being into our faculties, whether we walk down the street or drink a cup of soup divine life is pouring into the world. The effectiveness of every action depends on the source from which it springs. If it is coming out fo the false self, it is severely limited. If it is coming our of a person who is immersed in God, it is extremely effective. The contemplative state, like the vocation of Our Lady, brings Christ into the World.
(Open Mind, Open Heart, 62,63)
Rev. Dr. Candice Bist
Offering what I hope will be thoughtful additions to your spiritual journey, from my own musings, and the great array of teachers available to us through other blogs, videos, websites, music and art. May grace surround us all as we make our way forward through the astonishing mystery of life.