Eremos, A Center of Contemplative Life. I’ve been pondering what it means to be “a center of contemplative life.”
Some define contemplative living as leading a less busy, more quiet life or engaging in certain practices such as meditation, centering prayer or yoga. I like the way that Thomas Merton characterizes contemplative living as living in true relationships with oneself, God, others and nature. Our relationships become true when we free ourselves of the illusion of being a separate self, existing apart from God, others and nature.
I spent some time this summer in Scotland, walking through the countryside. We had no goal other than reaching an inn found at the end of the day’s journey. In five days of walking, we covered 65 miles in the rural Perthshire and Kincross areas. It was a slow, quiet way to experience the countryside. We were tired at the end of each day and rested well each night, refreshed to start again the next morning.
Immersed in the surroundings, we became part of the beauty. An appreciation of simple things like physical health, cool water, strong legs and blue skies made me realize how much there is to be missed in our usual busy lifestyle. This balance and connectedness that Merton presents seemed to come more easily when walking down Scottish lanes, thinking only of where to take the next turn.
Living contemplatively leads to seeing the interconnectedness of Merton’s four relationships and how important they are to each other. We seek to balance and integrate them and begin to see them as four dimensions of a single relationship with love as their connecting force. Silence, solitude, reflection, meditation, prayer and other spiritual practices are often used to deepen awareness of this love. Beyond those solitary practices, we need to look into the eyes of those around us, to connect with others.
In September, I will be leading a four-week program on Introduction to Contemplation. If you would like to join me, CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT IT. In the meantime, I invite you to peruse our website to explore the programs we offer to support a contemplative life in Austin, Texas.