"Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me."
How easy it is to forsake the contemplative life. To turn your mind from God and onto other things, fruitless and worthless things.
This is why I must practice His presence. As with anything, it takes discipline and training, to develop a habit. It takes practice to learn to hear Him and when I listen, instead to the voice of the world, it takes longer then to return to the place where it is His voice I hear.
Of course, I live in this world. But we are called not to be of it. How does one accomplish that?
"Before men are led into themselves by one person, they are drawn outward by thousands; before they are once taught with doctrine they are many times confused by bad example." -Henry Suso
The voices of this world are many and the voices we hear may not necessarily be what we would consider evil. But they can be a distraction. So, it's a persistence in this pursuit for holiness. The pilgrimage never ends. Daily, I must ask God to order my days. Daily I must clear my mind of all that is not from Him and put on the mind of Christ.
There is a prayer by E. Stanley Jones which says, "O Christ...For I want no manifestation that doesn't manifest You - manifest You in Your sanctity and Your sanity. For You are Life..."
When I read that, I thought that it was odd to think in terms of Christ's sanity. But this led me to contemplate the mind of Christ, which we are to be able to put on. This word mind also means, understanding. I will never understand all of the mystery of Christ but I can proclaim that because He lives in me, I have been given a sound (sane) mind. As I press on, I will become more and more sanctified, things will be revealed, and peace will come. I will understand what it means to say, I was not given a "spirit of fear".
So I must be in the world, especially in regards to my family and friends, be present with them and also aware of what is happening outside my own mind so that when entering again into the contemplative, I know what then to reflect upon.
So comes another tricky paradox, to see the world around me and it's needs, placing myself within, enough to partake and to aid but staying outside enough that I guard my mind from those things which are time-consuming and life-stealing. Empty endeavors.
Guarding my mind, meditating, practicing His presence; this is all work. It is far easier to ignore Him than to invite Him in, to entertain my mind rather than clear it. So, I have found, before all else fails, to pray. Pray scripture. The Psalms above, I use, or the Jesus prayer.
And writing this blog has not only helped me in my quest for a more deliberate existence but has proved as an accountability holder for me, for as I give voice to these matters I grapple with, I am reminded to live a certain way. If I am to talk about going about my work in a quiet and uncomplaining way, God will bring that to mind the first moment I am tempted to complain. If I am to talk about being diligent seeking His face, then He will prompt me toward this, when I am more inclined toward inattention.
Phew. This was a heavy one for me. But thank you for allowing me to voice these lofty thoughts and bearing with me as I persist, albeit clumsily.