Thomas Kempis 1379 – 1471
If we live in peace ourselves, we in turn may bring peace to others. A peaceable man does more good than a learned one.
In the still hours of the morning, I had decided to hope. As I quietly got out of bed, I assured myself that peace can be found. I crept down the stairs with hope in my heart. Stepping over my dog who laid sprawled on the mat, I opened my livingroom door. By simply hoping, I was already beginning to perceive peace.
However, that was not the way my day ended last night. Last night I was worrying. Christmas will soon be here and I still had a lot to do. I had been doing a lot of rushing around. I upset a friend because I hadn’t rung her in two weeks. My husband was sad that I hadn’t spent time with him in awhile. I was conscious that I hadn’t phoned my mother in ages. Even my teenage children commented that I was always disappearing after dinner. I LOVE Christmas but I craved a ‘Silent night, Holy night’ leading up to Christmas. I knew I had to stop and slow down. God knew that too which is probably why he woke me up at 4:30 this morning. I needed time in silence. When all around me is awake, the noise can be quite deafening to my spirit. Where did I go? I lost myself because I lost my way.
In the still hours of the morning, I crept into my living room. Turning on the Christmas tree and lighting a candle, I created the ambience to be a cosy haven. Propped against my cushions and covered in a fleecy throw, my heart was leading me back. I discover that I am still here. My hand is being held in a loving grasp as I begin my day in prayer. All is calm, all is bright.
As I contemplate the quote from Thomas Kempis, one thing comes to mind. In order to ‘live in peace ourselves’, we must persue times of silence. Peace does not materialize out of chaos. Peace is found from that wellspring within.
What is the purpose of Christian meditation? Have you ever wondered if it is even a viable option for Christians to meditate? Many people look towards meditation in different ways and for different reasons. For example some people look toward meditation as a form of stress relief. While others want to train the mind to become more focused. Meditation does offer these benefits but it offers something even more for those who have a relationship with God. When we meditate, our focus turns inward. We observe our breathing and/or manta if we use one and we become still. Inevitably, with a bit of practice, we begin to experience ourselves through our own spirit. Our mind and body temporarily seizes to be obstacles. We no longer see and experience things so acutely on a conscious level through or mind and ego but through our spirit (our real self). In other words, we cease to see our spirit as a third person but instead we experience consciousness through our spirit. John Mains says that our spirit is “our life-line with the spirit of God.” From the seat of our spirit, we are brought into the presence of God where there is joy and bliss. We experience God’s love directed towards us, filling all the empty regions of our being and at times, if we allow it, filling us to over-flowing so that we have no choice but to go out in love. We become vessels of love. We become more joyful givers. We become…light-bearers. The more we discipline ourselves to meditate regularly, the more we grow into our real selves and into love. We become more aware of ourselves as spirit and wherever we go, we feel the spirit of God’s love with us and encouraging us to love those we come into contact with. This is our deepest calling. To love God and to love others the way God loves us (to the extent we are able to); to become more and more one with God; to grow into a being of love.
Many Christians get stuck in love’s polar opposite which is fear. It is because of fear that many Christians decide not to meditate. They feel meditation is either a new-age practice or a practice stemming from Eastern religion. Yet for centuries, many Christians have practised meditation as a discipline for growth and to become closer to God. Still other Christians mistake meditation for contemplation or biblical contemplation. Contemplation is another important discipline altogether, one which I highly recommend. If time is available, it would be invaluable to have a combined session of meditation and contemplation where either one proceeds the other. In the bible we read, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Without the practice of stillness before God, it is difficult to grow in the fruits of the spirit which are love, peace, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience and self-control. You would only be going in your own strength. Yet with God, all things are possible. (Matt: 19:26) Have you ever tried to love others only to have your ego get in the way? However, when you are filled with love because you have been spending time in the presence of God, loving others becomes an effortless joy. It is love for Love’s sake alone. no strings attached. God is Love. Meditation is the way we begin to abide in Him. We become more attune to His voice. We gain more clarity of His purpose for us. He embraces us and points the way. With practice, we find that even when we are not meditating at that moment, we are aware of Him. Our attention is on Him throughout the day. We are aware of His presence and we feel Him leading us in love and joy.