Saturday, June 9, 2007
Experiences in contemplative prayer, and in the Spirit, are hard to translate into words. Someone said, “Stillness is the language God speaks, everything else is a bad translation." In that case, I guess what follows is a bad translation. Better go to the next blog!
Trying to express experiences in contemplative prayer is one of the reasons why mystics are sometimes accused of having their heads in the clouds and not being more practical, or down to earth. It's hard to find the words that adequately describe what goes on in our spirits and in the Spirit. That said, I want to try and relate a recent experience to you that has got me on a “stillness” kick.
I have a favorite place I like to go to pray in a local park. I love it because I can often pray there undisturbed by people for as long as I like to stay there. I say undisturbed by “people” because there is a fair share of frogs, bugs, and birds that can create quite a ruckus, especially during the spring and summer, but I digress...
Here's the head in the clouds part (it feels embarrassing to even write this, but here goes)...One day I was in the park in my favorite place, and for some reason I thought, “I am going to stand as still as this tree behind me and focus my attention on one of the trees in the distance,” so I did! Almost immediately I had an overwhelming sense of inner stillness, and being fully present to my surroundings. I could feel the stillness. I wasn’t simply and observer, I was one with it all. There was a gap in my thinking too; the continuous stream of head noise that I have going on most of the time stopped for a minute, or so.
Eventually, I turned to go, but the tall fir and cedar trees in the area caught my attention. I got caught up in their stillness for a moment, or two. I felt as though all of this, experiencing the stillness and the beauty of the trees, and my earlier experince, was a loving gift from God.
A few moments later I was back on the main trail and the verse “Be still and know that I am God” came to mind. The presence of God as this verse came to mind nearly knocked me over.
Being still - what a seemingly crazy way to get to know God, and yet, when you look back over history for thousands of years, religious teachers of all kinds have all taught the same thing: God is to be found in “quietness" and "rest.”
learning to pray: See the Stillness exercises on the right column of this blog.