Monday, August 15, 2011

question to contemplate

For three Sundays in August I am using the sermon/teaching time to address faith questions submitted by Trinity folks. One of the first responses I received to my request for “Questions of Faith” was so rich in its implications that I decided I needed to break it down into smaller pieces. Next week I will tackle the part about whether or not religion is necessary for a person to live a “good” life.

The question for the day at Trinity this past Sunday was “What is Happiness?”

 I used a Sufi story that teaches the lesson “This too shall pass” is to me about developing a capacity to step back from daily life, and recognize that the things that make us unhappy are temporary (as are the things that cheer us up!)  The story encourages us to step back from our daily life, to take a more contemplative approach.

I read some good words about contemplative living in a book called “The Lay Contemplative”, edited by Virginia Manss and Mary Frohlich. In an essay about formation programs that help people grow in this way, Wendy Wright says, “The contemplative approach orients to reality not as a problem to be solved, analyzed or manipulated but as mystery that elicits our reverence, claims our deepest desires, and calls forth responsive love.”

In my own experience, I have found practices such as prayerfully walking a labyrinth, quieting myself in Centering Prayer, doing yoga (depending upon the setting, and the teacher), reflective reading, and Lectio Divina (a particular way of praying with scripture) have helped to cultivate the contemplative attitude in me. I know that I am better able to respond with love to the world, and in relationships, when I “take time to be holy.”

This fall I will be helping with a retreat for church leaders. My role will be to offer some teaching on contemplative practices.

So I have a question to put out to those who read the fifth page:

“What do you do, in your own life, to cultivate a prayerful or contemplative approach to life?”

Please help me by taking some time to email me about things you have found helpful. I would love to hear about what you do, how often you do it.