The Cosmic Egg: Weekly Summary — Center for Action and Contemplation

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The Cosmic Egg: Weekly Summary

The Cosmic Egg

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Week Four Summary and Practice

Sunday, January 24—Friday, January 29, 2021

Meaning is communicated through story. The function of all mythologies, religion, and even family lore is to help us situate ourselves inside of a safe and meaningful universe.

“My Story” describes my private life, those issues that make me special, inferior or superior, right or wrong, depending on how “I” see it. Some people live their whole lives here without ever connecting with the larger domes of meaning.

“Our Story” is the necessary training ground for belonging, attaching, trusting, and loving. Unfortunately, some people get stuck here and spend their lives defending the boundaries, identity, and glory of “their” group.

Without the great stories that free us, we remain trapped in small cultural and private worlds. True transcendence frees us from the tyranny of I Am and the idolatry of We Are.

We are made in the image of a parent/creator who invites us into a cosmic belonging. —Barbara Holmes

Our songs, stories, and mythologies all speak of our interrelatedness. —Sherri Mitchell


Contemplating Images

In our 2021 banner images, we are delighted to offer the work of photographers inspired by the theme of the Daily Meditations. We hope that the images will open you to wonder and delight and help you cultivate sacred seeing, an ability to see God incarnate in creation beneath the surface appearance of things. This week we invite you to explore a traditional way of contemplating images from author and spiritual director Teresa A. Blythe.

When our intention is to seek God’s presence, one effective mode of prayer is gazing at an object as a window to the unseen God—be it a traditional religious icon or an object we’ve chosen because of its meaning for us. . . . Simply looking, without assigning any particular interpretation or meaning to the object of your gaze, can take you deep into contemplative awareness of God. . . .

I suggest beginning this exercise by using a traditional icon (or copy of one). That’s because they are lovingly created expressly for the purpose of prayer, and praying with one binds you to the great cloud of witnesses that have prayed with these images throughout history. . . . A photograph or painting that you treasure would also suffice. The important part is seeking God’s presence. The image in front of you is merely a window to God. . . .

  • Find a comfortable place to sit and gaze at your chosen icon. Decide how long you will spend in this contemplative practice. (20 minutes is suggested.)
  • Express your intention to encounter God. Ask God for guidance. . . .
  • We are invited to allow our mind to descend deep into the center of our heart, where we will encounter the presence of God. Spend a few moments pondering this and try allowing it to happen.
  • Gaze at the icon. Let your gaze be long and loving. Think of the icon as a mystical window in which you are on one side and God is on the other. Allow God to communicate with you by way of this image, but do not become anxious about how or when God may communicate. Simply continue to gaze and allow your heart to become still and open. Do this until you reach your time limit.
  • End the contemplation with a prayer of gratitude.
  • Spend a few minutes reflecting on the experience. Did you understand or feel that your mind descended into your heart? What was it like to use your eyes so intently in prayer? Did you feel the presence of the Holy during this prayer? If so, can you describe what you felt or experienced? . . . Would you be inclined to pray in this way again? Why or why not?

Experience a version of this practice through video.

Teresa A. Blythe, 50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times (Abingdon Press: 2006), 40, 41–42.

Image credit: Branches and Leaves (detail), Photograph by Thomas Merton, copyright the Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. Used with Permission.
Image inspiration: A tree with its leaves can only tell the cyclical story of life alongside a tree that is dying. Life and death in creation weave harmonies to share the rich this-ness of The Story.
To learn more about Thomas Merton’s photography see: Pearson, Paul M, ed., Beholding Paradise: The Photographs of Thomas Merton (Paulist Press: 2020).
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