The Contemplative Way echoes back through many centuries of spiritual wisdom from the early Christian saints such as St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Bernard, Julian of Norwich, Meister Eckhart and the Desert Fathers. It has been brought to us more recently by the writings of Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Fr. Thomas Keating, Fr. Richard Rohr, James Finley, Fr. Daniel O'Leary, Fr. James Martin, and the rich heritage of modern writers and living "saints".
"Contemplation is an immediate and in some sense passive intuition of the inmost reality, of our spiritual self and of God present within us,"
Without quite knowing how to describe or put my finger on it, I have felt drawn to the Contemplative Way from my earliest memories, feeling a strong internal pull to understand my own essential nature, the nature of others and the nature of Life itself. I am finding that it continues to dissolve all definitions and descriptions of opposites or absolutes within me. I am certain of nothing, and am softening in everything.
While we associate the Contemplative Life more typically with cloistered monks and nuns (View the wonderful School of Love documentary on the lives of the Cistercian nuns at St. Mary's Cistercian Abbey in Glencairn), more and more people are seeking a gentler, contemplative context for their ordinary lives, whether they are parents, children, employees, or company managers. Such "Hidden Contemplatives" are finding their truest life in the thick of the busy-ness of this modern world, in the transforming of their sorrows and joys, and in their ability to come to a place of allowing and surrender within their many daily actions and activities.
We are now blessed with significant teachings, commentaries and descriptions of contemplative experiences, from the ancient mystics to our own personal experiences. I will explore the teachings and wisdom of the Christian saints and scholars, the writers and mystics, even the music and art clearly inspired by Contemplation. I will also explore the teachings of the Eastern mystics from Rumi to Lao Tzu, as deeply understood and appreciated by Thomas Merton:
"Everywhere in the East, whether in Hinduism or Buddhism, we find that deep, unutterable thirst for the rivers of Paradise. Whatever may be the philosophies and theologies behind these forms of contemplative existence, the striving is always the same: the quest for unity, a return to the inmost self united with the Absolute."
When Absolute Truth is uttered, it is received and heard by the place of Truth within us, if we are able to listen and receive from that place. I encourage all to find and anchor themselves in this place. This is the Contemplative Way.