Awakening: What Does It Mean to Be Contemplative?
A Weekly publication of The Awakening Institute for Spiritual Formation,
Spiritual Direction and Soul Care
Hi Everyone, I pray that you, at this very moment, are experiencing the presence of God in your day. Now is a good time to be still and let God speak to your heart.
I am on vacation this week and next therefore we will be giving two encore offerings from the past, chosen for their popularity at the original time of publication. This week is an article originally published on September 16th 2016, titled…
What Does It Mean to Be Contemplative?
I would like to open with a brief prayer.
Dear Lord, Help us to contemplate your Presence and to hear you in our lives. Help us to move beyond simply thoughts about you into a deep abiding experience of You, and us in You. Lead us to a place of deep contemplation as we listen for your Presence in, though, and around one another. Lord, help us to rest where your light embraces our light in love. Help us to be spontaneously aware of your voice in the silence of your abiding Presence. We pray all these things in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
A contemplative is a person who is either trained or naturally endowed with an ability to pay close attention to God in their midst. At its center contemplation is interior silence that opens one’s spirit, soul, mind, and body to union with God. The stance of contemplation is to be open, non-judgmental, non-defensive and in the moment. The contemplative lives from a non-duel perspective where everything belongs and everything is sacred.
The contemplative moment is a moment where we become immersed in the reality of God’s presence, with no need to explain, describe, or understand; God’s presence just “is.” Jesuit theologian Walter Burghardt called contemplation “a long, loving look at the real.” The contemplative moment is a moment of letting go; not pushing away, but simply self-emptying. In this kenotic moment we become more and more aware of God’s presence. Contemplation is a gift, by God’s grace, that is available to all people. Everybody has contemplative moments. This is due to the reality that everyone is created in the image and likeness of God. In other words there is a light within every human spirit that is receptive to the light of God. Thomas Merton when speaking of contemplation said.
“The union of the simple light of God with the simple light of the human spirit, in love, is contemplation”
New Seeds of Contemplation, p. 292
We are not to try to summon up contemplative moments as much as we are to become aware of them as they present themselves. This awareness can be developed by training our spiritual senses to be listening and alert. Contemplation, in fact, is both the cause and the result of our work to develop listening hearts and minds. As we intentionally turn our attention to God, and begin to contemplate God, God will bless us with the grace to hear and thus to enter into ever deepening levels of contemplation.
“Simply stated, contemplation is a way to listen carefully, incline our ears, and come to a deeper awareness of God.”
Jean Stairs, Listening for the Soul, pg. 38
Therefore contemplation is not something we strive for, or to grasp in some way, but instead is already something we possess. The journey to contemplation always ends up in the same place in which we started albeit with a new awareness. This is a journey to our innermost selves where God dwells. But it is nonetheless a necessary journey, along which we jettison the things that block our awareness of Emmanuel, God with us. In other words…
“Contemplation is simply a way to be in touch with this God who already dwells in the inner core of our being.”
Listening for the Soul, pg. 43
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Introduction to the Enneagram Eleven Week Course
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Syllabus is now available; firstname.lastname@example.org
Something to Ponder
Wisdom for the mystic, always involves a synergy of knowing and not knowing, discovery and mystery, action and stillness, words and silence.
The Wisdom of Not Knowing, Pg. 3
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Christian Mysticism in Today’s World
Course Description: This is an 12 week course, (2 1/2 hours per session), designed to help the student discover the most important dynamics of Christian Mysticism, both in its historical context as well as the many ways it has, and continues to develop today. We will use a three-fold approach, which includes 1) Defining mysticism historically and what it means for disciples today. 2) Answering the question, “Who is a mystic?” and 3) the way of the mystic.
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Community Bible Experience
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The Gospel of John
Some recommendations for excellent spiritual guidance…
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Knowing as We Are Known
A five seek study in inner stillness
As taught by the author
Eugene T. Yotka
August 4, 11, 18, 25 and September1
at Epworth UMC,
7651 Johnson Street, Hollywood, Florida
Email email@example.com for tuition costs, further details and to reserve your space
“Knowing as We Are Known: An Exercise in Inner Stillness”, by Eugene T. Yotka,
Imagine Seeing Yourself as God See’s You; The True You.
Imagine Living in Full Awareness of The Lord’s Presence in Your Life
Imagine Having a Deeper Sense of Being One of God’s Beloved Children
Imagine Hearing God’s Still Small Voice in a More Profound Manner
We all long to live from the center of an authentic self. Gene Yotka has provided an important resource for helping us identify and express a spiritual life from that center. His book is a gift. – Dr. Steve Harper, Professor of Spiritual Formation, Asbury Theological Seminary
Gene has demystified contemplative prayer and made it accessible to the average believer. – Dr. Stephen Seamands, Professor of Christian Doctrine, Asbury Theological Seminary
From Gene’s book I learned a lot about how to truly pray. -- Salvatore Buttaci, Author and Poet
Eugene Yotka's book changed my life. I have struggled with years of feeling lonely even though I had people in my life that I felt connected with and having been saved since I was 3 years old and felt I had a relationship with the Lord. But this book and practicing inner stillness brought me to a place of knowing God like I have never known Him before. I no longer feel alone and feel empowered to practice inner stillness daily to continue this awesome relationship with God. --Wanda, Amazon review
“Knowing as We Are Known: An Exercise in Inner Stillness”, by Eugene T. Yotka, offers a way to experience the true self where God speaks to our spirits telling us we are God’s children. We are created to live in the Presence of God, here and now, and to know inward stillness, peace, and tranquility as a way of life.
Available for $12.00 from The Awakening Institute for Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Direction and Soul Care
Immerse yourself in that still place within, in which God speaks to the true self that you have been created to be. This book is more than simply information about inner stillness; it is a guide into the experience of inner stillness itself. This is the author’s journey to that place where God speaks to our spirits and calls us children. This is a call not so much to do something as much as it is a call to be who God created us to be.
A Gathering of Spiritual Directors
This coming spring The Awakening Institute will host a gathering of spiritual directors. The reason for the gathering is to come together in prayer and to seek discernment regarding ways we can, together, raise awareness within the church of how spiritual direction can be a vehicle by which God’s presence and voice can be more deeply felt and more clearly heard, at both individual and congregational levels. If you are a spiritual director and would like to join in this conversation please contact Gene Yotka at 321-298-8801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details.
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Awakening would be blessed to receive original articles, poems, or artistic work that would be helpful and edifying for those interested in Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Direction, and/or Soul Care for future publication.
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(Additional to our daily Scripture reading)
Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, by David-Steindl Rast
I Am A Follower, by Leonard Sweet
Becoming Human, By Jean Vanier
Knowing As We Are Known, by Eugene T. Yotka
Let Your Life Speak, by Parker Palmer
Desiring God’s Will, by David Benner
Walking In The Light, by Steve Harper
Thoughts in Solitude, by Thomas Merton
Incarnation: The Surprising Overlap of Heaven & Earth, by Will Willimon
The Mystic Way of Evangelism, by Elaine A. Heath
A Hidden Wholeness, by Parker Palmer
The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri Nouwen
Way of Love: Recovering the Heart of Christianity, by Norman Wirzba
Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr
Between the Dark and the Daylight, by Joan Chittister
New Seeds of Contemplation, by Thomas Merton
Love Henri, by Henri Nouwen
New! The Divine Dance, by Richard Rohr
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