There has been a need for daily contemplative practice in me for decades. Daily. Not periodic, occasional, or when I feel like it practice. I realized it again this morning. And I struggled for a long time to commit to actual daily practice.
I say need on purpose. This is not some duty, or wish to help myself be a better person, or desire to look good and spiritual to others. I need to practice the presence of God daily, in fact several times a day. And when the day is blessed, there are even moments of practicing the presence while serving.
Something in me needs to drop beneath thoughts, imaginations, memories, projections of my future, and feelings about all of that. Something in me needs inner stillness in the ground of my being. I think Jesus meant this place when he said, “The kingdom of heaven is within,” and “When you pray, go to your inner room.” I believe my spirit is at one with Spirit there. And there is more.
When I stay in that place of oneness, beneath thoughts and feelings, my purpose in being here becomes more clear. I intentionally asked myself again this morning, “Why am I here?” I did not try to come up with an answer. I did not rush the process. I just asked, and waited, and listened within.
In time there was a sense of clarity, a phrase that formed and took shape, a speaking Voice if you will. What came was, “I am here to gather people to practice the presence of God.”
In the spring of 1992 the message shaped itself in another phrase: “I am called to a life of prayer, for the world.” That is still as true as ever. Now I know this life of contemplative prayer is done for the whole world, for all beings, and for their sake. This is not praying for all beings like trying to get God to do something for them. This is uniting in oneness with the Source of All Compassion who already cares for all beings, more than I can even imagine. So the “life of prayer” is really joining God in the center of being to be one with the One who holds all beings in Her/His heart.
Now my purpose has gained clarity: it includes gathering others to drop down into that inner sanctuary together.
I wonder how it is going in your own journey toward finding your reason for being here? I wonder if you have also learned the importance of settling into the center of being to hear that speaking Voice guide you into your own clarity of purpose? If you have, thanks be to God. If you have not been there lately, perhaps you are like me and you need to come Home to the kingdom of God within each day. Perhaps you too need a period of inner listening. Maybe you want to drop everything and engage your daily practice of God’s presence right now.
*Some resources to support your inner journey include Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Keating, The Heart of Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault, Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic Culture by William Thiele, “A Contemplative Path” podcast by William Thiele, free on iTunes or SoundCloud. You could also contact Contemplative Outreach, the Center for Action and Contemplation, Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, Gravity, and our School for Contemplative Living.