Contemplative Life


Photograph by Daniel Padilla

There is nothing like the contemplative life, when I give to myself the opportunity to quite down all the noises around me, all the voices who tell me who I am or where to go, all the frustration, anxiety, hurt and bitter. It is a moment where I can try to understand the deepest longing of my soul, and the refreshment of my spirit. Therefore if, “Contemplative prayer is nothing other than coming into consciousness of what is already there” (Signature of Jesus – quote by William Shannon), then a contemplative life is not discovering what it will be, but acknowledging what is already there. I like the definition of salvation that Brennan Manning has, it is not to escape the flames of eternal damnation like we are used to hear, but “an ongoing process of becoming increasingly conscious.”

This is what happened with me this week, a gave myself a chance to leave the so addicted world of facebook, and started to be more productive in the midst of my unemployment, and waiting for the results of my scholarship application to start my Ph. D. program at Tennessee Technological University. One of the first things that happened is that I have accepted the fact that I am still hurt, and I will be for a while.  Do not take me wrong, I have forgiven the way the Institutional church has treated me, and some of my own parishioners; but when I think about it, still hurts like crazy. Some people say that in order to truly forgive you need to also forget. I have always wondered about that, because I do not think any human being has the capacity to completely erase from his mind the journey that he has been walked.  Jesus never promised to take away the pain, he promised peace. Not the peace of this world, and what I think he meant was not to have a well paid job so we can have retirement when old, or to have a house where we can live. I think he was referring to the inner peace, that in the midst of hurt, disappointment, frustration, and pain, I can realize the beauty of myself finding my house, retirement, and fulfillment in the splendor of my own self, and heart. It is in this place where we can let the words of Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed, Mother Teresa, and ourselves guide us to new paths, and I believe greatest journeys.

Manning in his little devotional book called “Reflections for Ragamuffins” says: “When God’s call is not clarified and the inner voice remains indistinct, our restlessness and interior disquiet may be signaling a new exodus into greater openness, vulnerability, and compassion, a deeper purity of heart, a transformed mind and spirit.” So what I see here is that this anguish, bitter, angry, and hurt that I feel is the lobby of what is coming ahead, a greatest way to share my heart to others, exposing myself again to more disappointment and probably pain. Oh my!! What a great cycle!!. Honestly it is a great cycle because without pain there is no healing. Therefore in order to find myself in a contemplative life, I need to find myself in a very uncomfortable life.

This is exactly what happened last year; since I have not really have time to spend time with myself, trying to cope with the highs and downs of my emotional rollercoaster, and with the adrenaline of finishing six years of higher education; suddenly I realized my material world was a complete mess. I had about five boxes full of papers, a humongous pile of dirty clothing, and the house in completely dirtiness. I knew it was time to take control of that, but honestly I did not know where to start. My good friend Paula (who I used to be married) volunteered herself to help me. We spent 14 hours during the weekend, watched two movies, two trips to Good Will, tons of garbage, 10 loads of washing, lots of sweating, sometimes swearing, but at the end we cleaned the entire house, set my little studio at the basement of the house where I will live now, cleaned the rooms where my next roommates will be living, get rid of things, cleaned the bathrooms, rearrange the kitchen, and finally re organized my material life once again.

I will truly recommend you to start living a contemplative life. Hmmm!! I can smell the aroma of “change” being cooked; I just hope it does not get burned. =)

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