The other outcome from my number 7 dream is the idea of rest, fallowness I guess it can be called in spiritual terms. The fact that, at the end of a cycle I/we need to wait on God, patiently and in contemplation. As a 7 (Enneagram) I am a doer, I like to start new things and be busy, new projects, new ideas, new friends, new experiences and I struggle to settle down and be quiet. Patience… O boy do I struggle with patience.
But part of my release and wholeness comes in the form of centering or contemplative prayer – resting IN God.
I read a book by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, a very cerebral (wordy) book about the Nicene Creed – why we believe what we believe – it took some ‘contemplating’, but it was essentially a beautiful little book. (Called Tokens of Trust)
I am pretty anti-establishment, anti-institutional – anti anything that is too rigid or has too much structure, I am notoriously bad at maintaining routine– cue raucous laughter from those of you who know I am pursuing a journey to full-time ministry in the uber institutional, rigidly established structure of the Methodist Church (it’s illuminations like this that make me remember that I do actually believe in God, because I would never have chosen this life for myself if it were not for the love of a Creator I cannot seem to always understand).
Anyway, the beauty of this book for me was that it sought to explain the ‘whys and how’s’ of our faith based upon humankinds stunted but mindful explanations and revelations of our trustworthy God. For all its gems and pearls of wisdom about the structure of religion it was the final chapter which really spoke to me – the chapter on contemplative prayer and I will post that chapter for its sheer beauty (See ‘Love Actually’). It speaks of the importance of contemplative prayer, that all of our beliefs and expressions thereof are nothing if not undergirded by love and the practice of love held in prayer.
One thing I have come to understand is how the art of centering prayer prepares me for contemplative living. Even if I don’t get it 100% correct all the time and lack the discipline and routine necessary to invoke it properly, the intention behind centering prayer and stillness is something that can become a lifestyle – without getting all zen on you, my ability to sit quietly and on my own has strengthened me in ways it’s hard to explain – I don’t always sit for 20 minutes twice a day, contemplating my navel as it were, but trying to has helped me to be mindful of the times when I can just be quiet, be still with God, snatched and precious moments of quiet, where I am just me and God is God.
I would love to be the super disciplined girl who wakes up at the crack of dawn to get on her knees and be still in front of God in order to understand the darkness and chase it away on behalf of myself and others but I am not. I am however, a girl who likes solitude and in those moments when I can look at the sky, or just sit with my eyes closed and be, I live contemplatively, free from masks and chains.
Perhaps one day I will get it right. Perhaps not. But until then I will be grateful for the stillness that I do find … and for the opportunity and the privilege to be in communion with those I don’t see or hear, but who I know are praying with me in spirit … what a beautiful, beautiful thought!