An Alphabet of Prayer

Thursday, February 3, 2022

The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

Contemplation: In his new book Answering the Contemplative Call, Carl McColeman says that contemplation is more than just the particular practices of silence, stillness, centering, or meditation, but instead contemplation is our deep longing to be “immersed in and infused with the love of God.” From that longing, God may provide gentle inner stillness, or alternatively a turbulent churning awareness of divine presence.

In his book Modern Spiritual Masters: Writings on Contemplation and Compassion, Robert Ellsberg says” Contemplation is the highest expression of one’s intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive… it is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent, and infinitely abundant source.”

The contemplative life is not passive, but instead can attune our lives more fully to the cry of our wounded world. Contemplation can give us strength to do challenging work of justice and peace to which God calls us. For men and women like Oscar Romero, Dom Helder Camara, Howard Thurman, Dorothy Day, and Mother Theresa, contemplative practices rooted them in that life of compassion.

God calls us to this life of compassion. Ellsberg says, “Contemplation is the response to a call: a call from The One Who has no voice, and yet Who speaks in everything that is, and Who, most of all, speaks in the depths of our own being; for we are words of God. But we are words that are meant to respond to God, to answer God, to echo God, and even in some way to contain God and signify God. Contemplation is this echo… it is as if in creating us God asked a question, and in awakening us to contemplation, God answered the question, so that the contemplative is at the same time, question and answer.”

Praying the Alphabet
We cling to you, O Christ,
We cry out amid constant chaos, undone by
the catastrophic cacophony of carelessness,
most days, seemingly unchanged by the crescendo of your company.
We call for ceasefire, civility, courage, and clarity.
We long to be centered in Christ-like compassion.
Console us. Comfort us. Claim and carry us. Amen.

February 3, 2022

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