Silence, solitude and stillness seem to be the markers of the contemplative path. Let’s talk about each posture and why they are important. During my interview on the Pilgrim Podcast, Lacy Carter Ellman referred to silence, solitude and stillness as the trinity of contemplation.
It is nice to take a break and be silent. God is in both the noise and the silence. (Just because we become silent does not mean there is no noise around us.) When we become silent we get out of the way and open to God.
This time is not about us. It is about how we can deepen our intimate relationship with God. It is about how we continue to fall in love with God. It is a time we set aside to let God love us. I do this as part of my centering prayer practice. I become silent, open to God and let God pray in me. It is like a reverse prayer. It is a very comforting and healing type of prayer. I rest in the arms of God during this time.
It is nice to sit in silence with God. It is like when we sit with a lover or friend. Words do not always need to be said. We just enjoy the company of each other. We can also sit in silence in community. We might do this as part of a centering prayer group or other meditation group. The traditional Quaker service is a silent sit performed in community. Whether in community or by yourself, we sit in silence in solitude with our Maker!
Stillness means we try to stop or better yet, let go of the inner chatter and open our whole being, body, mind and soul to God who is beyond our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations. We observe the inner chatter and then ever so gently let it go. We do not judge, react, or analyze it. Again, my silent prayer practice is centering prayer which includes a stilling of my mind and body.
There are contemplative paths that involve physical movement: walking, photography, drawing, painting. They, like centering prayer include a stillness of inner chatter. Inner stillness opens us to God. We learn how to be. We learn how to be in the presence of God. We learn how to rest in God.
What are the voices we hear in our head that tell us things that really are not true? We seem to tell ourselves to fear, worry, over analyze, obsess, stop any future action. Silence is how we discover who we are!
We are loved by God more than we can even imagine! Our God is delighted that we have taken the time to sit and be prayed in. It comforts me that God prays in me! God enjoys to plant within us inner nudges for future actions we are to take or perhaps not take too. Sometimes God just wishes to slow us down so we can see, hear, smell, taste and touch things that we never noticed before.
David Frenette, The Path of Centering Prayer
Christine Valters Paintner, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice
Christine Valters Paintner, The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within
J. Brent Bill, Holy Silence
Phileena Heuertz, Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life
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One on One Coaching with Rich
Does this sound like you?
“I am bored with my life?”
“I am not doing the things that I want to do in all areas of my life:”
-career, personal, family, community.
I feel unfulfilled, like I am just going through the motions everyday.
I have dreams and goals, but I am afraid to show up and take action on them.
I don’t want years to pass and be disappointed when I look back on my life.
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Since the time of the Desert Fathers in the third century, Finley begins, Christian mystics have practiced meditation as a way of opening to the direct presence of God in daily life. Legendary seekers such as Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Meister Eckhart explored how meditation can lead us beyond the closed horizon of the ego, to an interior and holy refuge that is always available to us. On Christian Meditation, James Finley offers a gentle introduction to this all-transforming way of life, and the ever-deepening realization of oneness with Christ it leads us to. (Based upon his book, Christian Meditation.)
Thomas Merton’s Path to the Palace of Nowhere: The Essential Guide to the Contemplative Teachings of Thomas Merton – Now James Finley, who for six years lived, prayed, and studied with Brother Louis, as Merton was known at the Abbey of Gethsemani, shares with us the gifts passed on to him by this towering figure.
The Teachings of Meister Eckhart: An Invitation to Experience God in Every Moment: The 13th-century mystic Meister Eckhart was the most brilliant Christian scholar of his day, but he was also legendary for the way that he opened listeners to the direct experience of God during his public talks. Today, his written wisdom remains alive as ever, ready to illuminate us. James Finley, one of today’s best-known teachers of the Christian contemplative tradition, invites us into Eckhart’s insights in the same way that this luminary teacher delighted in sharing them—through the spoken word.
“My experience—from the depths of depression to the heights of joy—has taught me that the path toward wholeness takes patience and passion,” teaches Parker Palmer. With An Undivided Life, you will receive his timeless wisdom and guidance to help you discern, trust, and follow your authentic self at home, in your work, and in the world. We all yearn for a life that is whole—where “soul and role” are aligned and our innermost wisdom guides us in our actions. Perhaps no one has explored this topic more deeply than bestselling author and distinguished educator Parker J. Palmer.
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