The good news is that one does not need to perch themselves hundreds of feet above the ground to discover stillness, simplicity, and silence. In fact, although I may have first uncovered fleeting moments of clarity in the mountains, it is through contemplative practice that I am able to let those moments continue to transform and work through me towards a unity with the divine.
Yes, Christianity and Hinduism follow separate teachings and figures, but the thought kept creeping upon my psyche… How was this any different from what I had left behind?
One pathway for integrating aspects of the contemplative movement into a congregation is to lead weekly contemplative prayer groups using the ancient Christian prayer form of lectio divina. During lectio, we hear the word of God through scripture, silently meditate, reflect, and share how we experienced God during the prayer.
That brings me to the pervasive idea among white contemplatives who dominate the ideas of modern-day contemplation that for the most part, African Americans and other people of color don’t practice contemplative prayer, which they view as predominantly silence. Silence certainly has its place, but as the writer of Ecclesiastes notes in chapter 3:1, everything has its time.
As I scan bookshelves, I see methods and frameworks that offer programs for myriad issues and stresses. There is an understandable desire for some answer, some relief to the pressure we feel in traditional congregations. But something in my soul resists relying too heavily on a program-maintenance model in congregational ministry.
A poem by Melanie Weldon-Soiset.
Intent. All prayer starts with intent. If one prays enough though, the original intents can begin to melt away. There is another intent that begins to emerge.
Yoga, like grace, arrived in my life when I needed it the most. I had gone through an arduous cancer journey and my spirit seemed broken. After my first yoga class, I knew I had found a way to regain a new sense of being, of wholeness.
Traditional Church offers opportunities to learn about our beliefs and chances to live out our faith in particular times and places. Contemplation moves beyond expressions of faith that are bound by time and place. It is about practicing a constant awareness to what is around me, and where God is in it.
In my early years, I was searching for excitement. In my later years, I began looking for home. A place to connect with the landscape and people and rhythm of an area. A place to belong. It wasn’t until I discovered, rather unexpectedly, a deeper connection with God and then with others that I felt a true sense of home.