Scripture: Genesis 32:22-32
When I used to think of the words "retreat," "monks," and "contemplation" I imagined people far removed from my world filled with the stress of daily living and the anxiety that is so pervasive in our world. My image included an escape from real life and challenging encounters. Especially with the word contemplation, I presumed it was for people with too much time and not enough to do. The monks at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit and the book we read from challenged my assumptions.
So is Contemplation really a retreat from all that is anxiety producing and challenging? Merton contests such assumption us with a strong word of "no." "On the contrary, the deep, inexpressible certitude of the contemplative experience awakens a tragic anguish and opens many question in the depth of the heart like wounds that cannot stop bleeding." I liken Merton's thoughts to C. S. Lewis' notion found in the Chronicles of Narnia book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when Lucy asks about the mysterious figure of the Lion, Aslan (the Christ figure). "His he safe?" she asks fearful and innocently. "Well of course he isn't safe," responds Mr. Beaver.
If Contemplation is about encountering the God who is holy, then in contemplation God will reveal to us and break down the idols we incessantly create, challenge us from mere good thoughts and intentions toward right attitudes and actions, break us out of our self justifications toward self emptying and these conversions come at no little fight and struggle from us. Contemplation isn't for the weak, but for the brave!
How does the idea of contemplation change if it happens in the presence of a loving and holy God that desires we be transformed into the likeness of Christ?
The Life with God Bible asks “Could one reason [we are afraid of being alone] be an unhealthy reliance on other people instead of on God for our well-being and happiness?” Is this true for you? How can you become more comfortable with silence?
What wounds does God desire to heal within you? Might you end up with a limp like Jacob? In what ways would you be stronger because it?