From “Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross, speaking about those in a deep relationship with God;
“Meditation is now useless for them, because God is conducting them along another road, which is Contemplation. It is very different from the first, for the one road belongs to discursive mediation and the other is beyond the range of the imagination and discursive reflection.”
Many people think that Meditation and Contemplation are the same thing and use the words interchangeably. Although they share similarities, they are different. They are both paths to God, but they differ in how one travels on that path.
Mediation is the work of the mind. Also called “discursive prayer,” it involves a back and forth between myself and God. It is my work, my questions, my thinking.
Contemplation is the work of the heart. Beyond discursive reflection, it involves being present to God. It is His work, His answers, His thoughts.
A few years ago, I attended at retreat on “Natural Contemplation.” At this retreat, I was introduced to many new ideas about seeking God, about listening to God, and about paying attention. About praying without words. The retreat was held in a beautiful mountain location, and the grounds offered abundant opportunities for contemplation.
I have been about this “work of the heart” since then, paying attention and seeking God’s wordless voice all around me.
I have developed an exercise that gives you guidelines to develop this type of attentiveness. It’s called “Visio Divina.” Similar to “Lectio Divina” in its movement of hearing, meditating, responding, and resting, but it utilizes the physical world as its divine text. I’d be thrilled to share it with you. Let me know by visiting this link.
Practicing this type of Contemplation has sharpened my eyes to what God is saying – everywhere. I hope you’ll give it a try.
Tomorrow: In Spiritual Growth, D is for DISCERNMENT.