By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength…” – Isaiah 30:15
When was the last time you asked someone a question and their response was… “I’m not sure… let me think about that…”? Well, whenever that was… you just crossed paths with a ‘contemplative.’ I’ve been tagged as one of them. And becoming one did not happen overnight or over a weekend. And as I find myself saying and writing from time to time… it’s not a new thing… contemplatives have been in our midst for generations and having them nearby or even becoming one is essential to our future. Thomas Merton said it this way…” Contemplation must be possible if humanity is to remain human.”
Contemplation is connected to the world of faith and mysticism. It’s a practice that an individual actually makes an effort at. In the Christian world, contemplativeness is a gift given gradually by the Holy Spirit. And over the centuries contemplatives have been known by many names with the most famous being the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the 3rd and 4th centuries, continuing on with the mystics of the middle ages, to the spiritual wisdom embodied in twentieth century visionaries. I met a Roman Catholic nun back in the 1990’s who introduced me to ‘centering prayer’… a contemplative prayer practice that has found deeper and more eloquent expression in my last almost 30 years. As I mentioned… it doesn’t happen overnight.
What if all the world began to practice a novice’s form of contemplativeness? I actually know many people who do as I have taught simple ways to be in touch with God, one’s self, the world and the cosmos. Perfect practice makes perfect and anyone can practice wherever they are… in a chair in a quiet room… a backyard patio or front porch… in a still corner of a chapel or walking in the forest under an umbrella of sun shading trees… or 2 miles out on the Gulf of Mexico in a boat with the motor off or as my old friend Gary suggested recently… “riding beautiful Sarah (the four-legged beauty horse) she listened as patiently as any therapist should during our quiet walk together…”
There’s an equation that works well here… contemplativeness leads to observation and observation moves the heart and mind and spirit to a place of confession (of what we have done or left undone) or the need to exercise forgiveness (because of what someone else has done or left undone) and in that moment of confession or forgiving each one of us experiences a therapeutic renewal of our own life… as the term, ‘therapy,’ literally means ‘care of one’s soul.’ And if I don’t care for mine and you don’t care for yours… who will?
Being stuck in our homes these past 13 months doesn’t make us contemplatives. I’m not advocating for any of us to crawl off into a corner to pray. Remember… the desert hermits died out over time as while their lives were steeped in prayer and reflection, they didn’t accomplish much beyond that. And that’s the point… the purpose and benefit of being a contemplative is not that it last all day long but that it lasts all life long, taking time each day to reflect on life’s purpose to remain as human as humanly possible … Faith matters… today and always!
Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland, having pastored four churches in Texas and Louisiana over the last four decades. Follow his blog ‘murmurings’ at https://briangigee.wordpress.com/. Please send your comments and / or questions to [email protected].