In last night’s gathering of the Authentic Freedom Contemplative Community, one of the participants made an observation related to her own spiritual journey that I think better than anything else, describes the contemplative journey in a nutshell. “Normal doesn’t fit.” These three little words perfectly describe the truth of the contemplative journey. As those who have recognized the call to contemplation and have chosen to live that out can attest, the journey is everything BUT normal!
Contemplation defies practically everything that we have been taught in our Western culture to value: status, power, achievement, acquisition, competition and control. In fact, the contemplative process stands in the face of the Western model which says: Get it done now. Get it done quickly. Time is running out. Be extroverted. Be the best. Beat the competition. Win the race. He who has the most stuff wins. Stand alone. You are separate.
Instead, through the contemplative journey we learn to value the opposite of what the Western model would teach. We learn to value patience. We learn to honor the natural flow of the universe and engage in that flow. We come to recognize the relativity of time and discover that inner timelessness. We learn to honor our inner introvert. “Failure” becomes just another opportunity to learn. Competition ceases to exist and there is no race to win. Stuff becomes insignificant – or at the very least we release our compulsive attachment and quest for “more”. We know we do not stand alone – in fact, we come to understand more and more fully our connectedness that eventually leads to the truth of Oneness. And we know that we are not separate, but are One in this journey toward remembering the love that we are.
To those who have not embraced the contemplative journey, this process looks insane, irrational and just plain weird. Why would someone want to spend time in silence? Why would we want to be quiet? Why would we not care about acquisition, competition, power and fame? Why do we care about beauty, wonder, miracles, magic? What do you mean it cannot be defined in black and white terms? Why would I want to be involved in something that cannot be measured, defined, predicted? Through non-contemplative eyes, the contemplative life might even appear to be counter-cultural and potentially dangerous.
In the contemplative journey, what is valued is the journey itself. We experience the benefit of honoring our inner sacredness and take time to remember and connect with this truth. We then simply allow the rest to unfold. And this unfoldment we discover is effortless, when we allow ourselves to get out of the way. In the end, contemplation opens us up to wonder and awe. We become aware of the miraculous dynamics of the universe and our role in the on-going revelation of the Divine within ourselves and in the world. Contemplation allows us to see our world through the eyes of magic and mystery in which everything becomes the playground for the Divine. Embracing the posture of observation, we become human beings, instead of human doings. And this- to the Western mind is simply NOT NORMAL!
So, I offer a prayer of gratitude to last night’s participant who reminded us of this profound and amazing truth about the contemplative journey – NORMAL DOESN”T FIT!