An Invitation to stillness
“Deep calls to deep” – Psalm 42
Contemplation is a word that is not used regularly in Methodist worship and practice. A common interpretation of Luke 10.38-42 is that Mary is the contemplative and Martha is the activist. We Methodists are activists aren’t we? Yet, the word ‘contemplation’ is explicitly about action. The word comes to us from the Latin. The prefix ‘con-‘ literally means ‘acting together’. ‘Template’ is to do with the temple or the most important thing that we seek to copy. Artists with templates will understand! To ‘contemplate’ therefore literally means ‘acting together in the temple’. In contemplation the temple in question is the temple of our souls (or to modern readers: that area of our brain which includes but is also beyond or deeper than our conscious thought). Contemplation is acting together with God in our souls. God acts by inviting us to be still and to recognise the divine indwelling. As individuals and in contemplative groups our actions are to surrender, to stop, to be still, to listen. These actions of surrendering, stopping, stilling, listening give space for the action of the Other. For God….
‘I discovered the books
which the Jewish religion says
were composed by Moses and the prophets.
There I discovered that God bears witness to himself in these terms:
‘I am who I am’,
and : ‘Say this to the people of Israel,
“I AM has sent me to you”’ (Exodus 3.14).
I was filled with wonder at this perfect definition
which translates into intelligible words
the incomprehensible knowledge of God.
Nothing better suggests God than Being.
‘He who is’ can have neither end nor beginning’.
(Hilary of Poitiers)