Is Contemplative Spirituality Life-Giving?

by Mark Votava


Life can be difficult sometimes.  I have spent so many hours and days of my life mourning the loses of my dreams and wishing there wasn’t so much injustice in the world.  But I have found that through all the pain and tears that there is a deeper side of life that I must develop within.  As I have explored a contemplative spirituality in community, it has been the most healing way of life for me.

I am finding a way to be grateful for what life is to me in my context in everyday life.  Complaining less and encouraging others more is so important to me.  I am finding a greater love in the small things and ordinary moments of life.  Freedom is becoming more than just a empty word, but am embodied experience.

  •  Flowering of patience and steady perseverance

Richard Rohr in his book A Lever And A Place To Stand says, “Contemplation is no fantasy, no make-believe, no daydream, but the flowering of patience and steady perseverance…” 

  •  Responding to life with more courage

Contemplation will lead us to a consistent perseverance in the parish.  We will be able to respond to the pain and difficulties of life with more courage.  A sustainable perseverance will strengthen us through the mystical imagination.  Nothing will move us from our call to be the body of Christ together in everyday life.

  •  Bringing some sanity to our fragmented lives

Our practice of contemplation will bring some sanity to our fragmented lives.  We will learn to find our strength in God.  This is the only source of our sustainability as a contemplative community.  Contemplation gives us the patience necessary to persevere in all things that life will bring us.

  •  We need the practice of contemplation

There will be the good times and the bad times, lonely times and not so lonely times, dark times and lighter times, frustrating times and joyful times.  There is a season for all of this.  That is why we need the practice of contemplation in the darker times or will soon find ourselves giving up on the body of Christ altogether.  We will become disillusion, like so many have, thinking it isn’t worth the risk.

  •  Not listening to some common narratives

The thought goes: “It isn’t worth the risk to love and care for a place.  We have our lives to live.  And this is not in the definition of life anymore.”

  •  Leading us to a reality without illusions

Contemplation does not leave us to “fantasy, make-believe or daydreams;” but leads us to a reality without illusions.  We cannot tolerate the illusions of our uprooted culture that are always telling us to find something better somewhere else if things get difficult.  The mystical imagination ignores such narratives and embraces contemplation as a way of life.  Our very beings become expressions of contemplation as we live out the gospel in everyday life together.

What is one step you can take today to develop a deeper contemplative spirituality?