Whether I have decided to sit in silence for 10 minutes or 30 it is almost certain that these moments of Silent Contemplative intimacy with God will be interrupted. The place of real contemplation does not come as a result of a technique. It is simply a gift from God. But there are struggles.
Waiting for the Caboose
I know it sounds corny but when people ask about my own Contemplative practice I say I get comfortable, I sit in silence, and I wait for the caboose that at one time was at the end of every train. Almost every session of Silent Contemplative Prayer begins with a multitude of thoughts - some well organized and on a theme, others more scattered - jumbled and disorganized like a train with passenger cars and cars transporting all kinds of cargo from cars to cattle. It does not matter. I park in front of this slow moving train knowing that eventually it will end. The caboose goes by and I can be on my way to a more focussed sense of intimacy with God.
Well, almost. The interruptions are not yet over. Like a parade of pedestrians random thoughts invade the inner silence, a list of things waiting to be done. What to do? Grab a pencil and paper and write it down. This simple procedure works remarkably well. It takes care of the interruption and now I can get back to the matter at hand. Certainly better than trying to resist the thought and hope that after your prayer session you still remember that thing you need to do.
A flow of words and images
- the vocabulary of God - arises
from the depths of my spirit.
There are other interruptions that are even more providential. Almost everything I have written over the past ten years has come from moments of contemplative intimacy interrupted. A flow of words and images - the vocabulary of God - arises from the depths of my spirit. They flit through my imagination like a bird barely noticed in my peripheral vision. And then they return. And persist. Demanding attention. Asking to be developed. Promising that if I write them down they will lead my heart and mind to places unknown. And so I do. I grab my ever ready computer and type out these words, phrases, sentences that become paragraphs that become essays and articles. And so here we are. My intimacy was divinely interrupted with a flow of God given inspiration, and you are reading what I wrote.
Sometimes I get back to the silence; sometimes that is it for the day. The agenda is God's, not mine.