Friday, September 16, 2011

Read a book about contemplative prayer

This summer I read Leighton Ford's The Attentive Life: Discerning God's Presence in All Things.  I bought the book a few years ago, got about 20 pages in, decided I was bored out of my mind, and stuck it on the shelf. This summer, I felt drawn to it, started reading it from the beginning again, and fell in love.  I'm not sure entirely why I had such a different reaction to the book this time.  Maybe it's because I've learned the practices of mindfulness and meditation through Holy Yoga that the idea contemplative prayer resonates with me more now than the me of three years ago.  At any rate, I greatly enjoyed the book.

Ford uses the scaffolding of the monastic ritual of praying "the divine hours" to frame the book.  He talks about each of the "hours" in a literal way...how it is observed at a monastery or convent, how we can practice in our day-to-day, but also how it relates to different seasons of our lives.  The book also has a lot of personal story and reflection and several poems written by Ford, giving it an almost memoir-like quality.  It feels a little like you are reading his personal spiritual journal, but in a way that you know he wouldn't mind you doing it.

My take-away from the book is what an opportunity I have to be present to God and others no matter what I am doing.  If I am teaching Holy Yoga and telling people about how to find full life in Jesus, be present to my work there--teach great yoga and share Truth.  If I am folding laundry for the 16th time that week, acknowledge that I am folding the clothes of the children of the Most High.  When I am sitting in the sun, I can reflect on the beauty and warmth present, as well as the beauty and warmth that created it.  It's about being tuned in to what really IS and allowing our prayer lives to be dynamic with the living God.

Great book.  If you want to learn about being attentive or deepening your prayer life, check it out.

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