…Words sung by Dave Matthews. Those words strike my core. One of my favorite lines of all time.
When I started spending a lot of time in my studio about 12 or so years ago, I thought I was going stir crazy with the isolation. I would emerge from the dungeon of creativity in late afternoon and be beside myself with the need to communicate. I really thought that it was a negative. You don’t understand, I have to be BY MYSELF ALL DAY !!! is how I felt. And it was, as long as I thought of it in those terms. Isolation.
BUT THEN ……. (I cant figure out how to make my font bigger on this program. I would like to see those words bigger.)
…. I saw it differently. I began to study Contemplative prayer. It is a type of prayer where you learn to sit in quiet. And listen. And learn.
It sounds like meditation. And it IS a form of.
Wiki’s definition for meditation is:
The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices (like sports), which range from techniques designed to promote relaxation, contacting spiritual guides, building internal energy (chi, ki, prana, etc.), receiving psychic visions, getting closer to god, seeing past lives, taking astral journeys, and so forth, to more technical exercises targeted at developing compassion, love, patience, generosity, forgiveness and more far-reaching goals such as effortless sustained single-pointed concentration,[3
That is not what I wanted to learn. That is WAY to broad for me. Too much wiggle room. I wanted a tight fit. My intention was to narrow in on Christian contemplation. The wiki definition refers to it as a “gaze of faith” or “a silent love”. I love that. A silent love. Wow. It also says it is “the soul’s inward vision and the heart’s simple repose in God.”
So, in my journey, I have learned that there is a difference between “isolation” and “solitude” . Isolation can bring about negative feelings and emotions. It is not intentional state of being. We get stuck inside ourselves and negative thoughts and feelings swirl around. It is just the act of being alone.
Solitude can be a rich experience where we empty the contents of our mind that float around getting clogged and jammed and invite God in to teach us wisdom, guide us and just simply love us. But it is an intentional act. We have to want it.
I am amazed at what difference it makes. I leave my studio time with a sense of calm and peace and a feeling of being loved. It is truly remarkable.
You do not have to be sitting doing nothing to be in contemplative prayer. You can be doing. The only requirements are to allow your mind to empty. And allow God to fill. Pretty simple, eh? Not really. It is hard. But anything we put our mind to is hard. Dave’s song is all about it. Diggin’ a ditch aint no easy task.
Sometimes it takes A LONG time to quiet ourselves and just be. We live in a loud, over stimulated world. The media and what not want us to be overloaded with “stuff”. And it is SO easy to invite it all in. And maybe we don’t want it all in, but if we sit in its presence its comin’ ready or not. Unless we get quiet with some solitude.
Also, since it is a form of prayer we have the idea that we should be the ones doin’ all the talking. Not so. Speaking for myself, I need to shut up every now so that I can hear, learn, and be loved.
So, how can this be done? It can be done anywhere, anytime. Turn off external hardware (radio, tv, computer,etc. It will all be there waiting for you. And believe me when I say you will not be missing anything). Invite God to your side. Then just be. When your mind wants to go somewhere without you. Yank it back. Your plan will suit it better. Take in the present moment without making a judgement about it. Look what is going on outside your car window. Without making a judgement about it. Spend the moment NOT MAKING A JUDGEMENT about it. Just take it in like it is the first time you’ve seen it. Let your mind slip from that moment into the next and just sit in it keeping it open to hear what He wants you to see, hear and learn. Without making a judgement about it.
Takes practice. I hope you’ll give it a try.