Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Guest writer and CAC teacher James Finley continues to share insights on meditation (another word for contemplative prayer).
Jesus taught that we are completely drenched through and through with God’s love. In the parable of the prodigal son, in his miracles of healing, in his love for everyone he encountered, Jesus’ message rang out to one and all: a divine benevolence gives itself to you whole and complete in and as your very life. Your incremental degrees of awareness of this mystery are stages of realizing what is from all eternity the brimming-over fullness of your true and everlasting life.
This is just what moments of spontaneous meditative experience disclose. Suddenly, your awareness of this awakens you to that which transcends this. By “this” I mean whatever it is you might happen to be aware of at the moment when the awakening occurs. Your heart quickens by this friend’s unexpected act of kindness. Or perhaps the expansion of awareness occurs as you are looking down into the upturned face of this child. Or you may look up to see this lone bird circling in a cloudless sky. In a fleeting flash you realize that there is nothing missing anywhere. The reality of everything around us is manifesting the fullness of reality itself.
The coming and going of our moments of awakening begin to graze our hearts with longing. This is what makes us seekers of the inner way—this longing, in which we find ourselves going about with a certain holy discontent, restlessness, or homesickness. Consciously and unconsciously, we go about asking: Why do I spend so many of my waking hours trapped on the outer circumference of the inner richness of the life I am living? How can I live in more daily abiding awareness of the transcendent depths so fleetingly glimpsed?
We cannot make moments of spontaneous awakening occur. But even so, we find our way to the strategy that underlies all methods of meditation: freely choosing to assume the inner stance that offers the least resistance to being overtaken by the graced awakenings we are powerless to attain. As we cultivate the habit of this receptive openness in daily meditation, a more habitual meditative awareness slowly becomes our way of experiencing our day-by-day lives. As we sit in meditation, being as sincere and attentive as we can be, we realize, little by little or all at once, that we are immersed in the mystery that has awakened us and is drawing us to itself.
We now have our finger on Christ’s pulse. For Christ was always calling out to those around him to join him in seeing the Godly nature of everyone and everything he saw. It is out of this meditatively realized oneness with God in life itself that Saint Francis called the sun his brother and the moon his sister.
Gateway to Silence:
Rest in God resting in me.
Adapted from James Finley, Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God (HarperSanFrancisco: 2004), 43, 45-50, 65-66.