This summer, I spent a good amount of time out in my garden, doing some planting and cleaning up and generally trying to make it an “outdoor room” for the summer (those of you who have visited my home know that the yard is just about as large as the entire house, so it is important and great space to use when I can!)
As I puttered, I thought about the ways in which we speak of contemplation and action as if they were two different activities, or worse, opposites. As I dug and watered and dead-headed and performed all of those other little tasks, I had time to pray about the earth, about planting and watering and growing and dying and re-seeding and all the things that we know are of God and of Jesus. These small tasks invited me to actively contemplate, (or to contemplatively act?), and I felt at one with myself and our Mother earth. Mother Mary (who occupies the prize corner of the garden) watched over me.
What small chores in your life offer you a chance to contemplate actively?
contemplate [ˈkɒntɛmˌpleɪt -təm-]
vb (mainly tr)
1. to think about intently and at length; consider calmly
2. (Christianity / Ecclesiastical Terms) (intr) to think intently and at length, esp for spiritual reasons; meditate
3. to look at thoughtfully; observe pensively
4. to have in mind as a possibility to contemplate changing jobs
[from Latin contemplāre, from templum temple1]
At the end of my vacation, I went with the rowers up to Fallen Leaf Lake. One day we took a hike just into the Desolation Wilderness, where we found secret swimming holes and spent the day swimming, eating and enjoying each other’s company. I brought along my camera, and in the middle of the stream, I found a rock which I fell in love with. As my friends meandered up the river, I spent a lot of time trying to capture the beauty of the thing: it seemed gold to me, shimmering just below the icey clear water. My pictures don’t do it justice. However, the simple act of trying to capture the beauty of it will stay with me a long time.
I encourage you to pay attention to your own acts of contemplation and bring them to your daily prayer, giving thanks for the uncaptureable beauty of God which is all around us!
With love and prayers,