The work of contemplative prayer can be quite a challenge for even the most seasoned servant to maintain a high level of commitment. This world does not value silence. Silence is a place where thoughts have power and reflections painful as well as productive.
Notice I used the word work. How is it work to just sit still, focusing on your breath, seeking to simply let thoughts drift by while you willing seek to be in the presence of God, hoping that being in the presence of God will bring about an intimate union?
It is work to be committed to this task. It is work to not let your thoughts and often unconscious reflection dominate your time and prevent you from your goal of awareness. It is work to be patient. It is work to tolerate the misunderstandings of others and the hostility that can arise from those who are intimidated by individuals who want to travel the apophatic way.
Again, as our group gathered, I came with the expectation of entering the world of giving God permission to permeate my soul. I came to join with others to journey through the desert to the mountain where God’s still small voice could be heard. I came knowing the enemy would be there, but I came with a felt assurance that comes when those of like mind and desire join together on the road less traveled.
We had our first visitor today. A lady who definitely had the air of a seeker. My heart when out to her. She had not been to this wilderness before. This would be a new challenge. I prayed silently that the Lord would bless her this day.
The thing about the contemplative way is that it is hard, spiritually, mentally, and at times, even physically hard. We were going to spend twenty-five minutes in silence. This was only our third meeting. Five minutes in silence can seem like forever when one first begins on this path. Questions can arise with spines like cactus. Thoughts can startle us like a coiled snake ready to strike. The quest for God, the waiting, breathing, and focusing can make us feel parched, wanting the water we believe is there, but where?
I know we have people come and go. We are not salespeople. Our task is not to build up numbers by bodies. We are to be faithful. We are to be committed. We are to be still and know that God is God and trust that the work done in silence will produce life more in line with God’s will and a relationship with God that is an intimate love for which we were created.