Last night I was thinking about the danger of praying alone and I was trying to determine if I was overstating it (see part 1 below)? Obviously, there is absolutely nothing wrong with simply praying alone and admittedly I am being a bit sensationalistic. I can and should pray alone - continuously! The point I am trying to make is concerning the “contemplative prayer journey.” One of the authors and spiritual directors I really respect is Jim Imbach (author of The River Within and more!). He has said,
“The contemplative journey is too hard and too dangerous to do alone. It’s too counter-cultural to sustain, too much of an upstream swim to make it if we have to do it on our own.”
In a way we are going off the traditional path, like I described in Part 1. When I do that in my spiritual life I need to have a guide. I need to have someone who knows the spiritual territory I am going into. When I had my hiking accident, if I had gone with someone who knew the area I was hiking, they could have warned me about the slippery rocks on the bank I was climbing down. In the very least, they could have helped me when I fell, bandaged me up and walked me to safety. In the contemplative life I am going to fall, I am going to fail, it’s a part of this journey and it is so helpful to have someone to communicate God’s grace to me and to simply let me know God’s love never changes, and it is going to be okay.
Had I had someone to bounce things off of in the early years of my contemplative journey it would have been SO helpful. Not as far as technique or anything like that, but concerning the issues of my heart. I have so many blind spots that need to be , sometimes painfully, pointed out to me if I am going to grow in the love of God. On my own I continually seem to miss the big picture.
I think the thought of finding a spiritual director first entered my mind when I was reading Father Thomas Keating’s book Open Mind, Open Heart. He repeatedly encourages his readers to join an group of fellow contemplatives, and to find a spiritual director.
learning to pray: Where do you go to find a spiritual director? If you live in B.C., Canada you can contact SoulStream (Jeff and Jim Imbach's organization) by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. SoulStream will also have a website soon – www.soulstream.org. Other organizations and materials that I highly recommend can be found at www.contemplativeoutreach.org and www.renovare.org.