Mother Theresa said that her sisters, who lived simply and served the poor, were more than social workers. She described the role of her nuns in the following way:
“We are all called to be contemplatives in the heart of the world — by seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, everywhere, all the time, and [God's] hand in every happening; seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.”
This is contemplation being lived out not on an isolated mountaintop but through daily life.
Like daily saints, contemplatives hug the world in which they live. They see the hurt and walk towards it. They find beauty in unexpected things. They find ordinary life to be an opportunity for God to do something amazing. It's good to be contemplative but it does take time to develop.
How do you know that you are becoming more contemplative?
1. You notice something that you didn't see previously. A sunrise, a mailbox, a physical characteristic of a colleague, the accent of someone you know, a field on the way home that you ordinarily wouldn't notice.
2. You read more slowly. Rather than being sucked in by the quick pull of Twitter or Facebook or Email, you manage to read more slowly. Books come alive, the Bible is interesting once again and you have more "AHA" moments.
3. You actually listen when others are talking. I don't mean that you are waiting to speak in a more polite way than usual. I mean actually listening to folks and then taking in everything that they say. Real listening.
Being a contemplative is powerful stuff.
Are you recognizing signs in your own life that show a growing contemplative spirit?
*Photo courtesy of JW.