Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Contemplative Life

This week I had lunch with a friend who is a chaplain in the psychiatric ward of the local VA hospital. Every few months we get together for some engaging conversation about the spiritual life. This week we discussed the contemplative life and the experience of God. Both are weighty topics and there are many opinions about what each of them means. I do not pretend to have the definitive answer. I will share a few thoughts about what they mean to me. I believe the contemplative life is a life lived in awareness. It is a life lived in an awakened state. It is being present to the moment. Sometimes these moments sweep you away and you become lost in them. Those are the kinds of moments that I often refer to as "Zen Moments". You can't plan them and you can't make them happen. The contemplative life becomes a way of being and a way of seeing life. Too often in our lives we are unaware and asleep as we go through the motions of living our lives. Contemplative living is a spiritual wake up call.

What is the experience of God? I don't think it can be talked about without the use of analogies. No one can say, "The experience of God is......". All one can say is "The experience of God is like....". Even with the use of analogies, there is no certainty the comparison is accurate. In terms of the experience of God, what is real and what is imagination? If I am asked what the experience of God is, I must say, "I don't know". If you believe that God is love, then perhaps every experience of unconditional love is the experience of God.

All I can do is not get hung up on all the different opinions, theology, the incidentals of religion and traditions, and try to be open to the experience of life. If there is a God, it is through my life that I will experience Him....or Her.

No comments: