Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oh, Meditation

Recently my friend Dulcina and I decided to meet weekly to discuss a Christian book we're both reading, Spiritual Classics by Richard Foster. I'm super excited about this book, as well as having someone to go through it with. I bought it last summer at an awesome Christian coffee shop in Gunnison. It has sections on all of the major spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, service, solitude, and confession.

Dulcina and I started comparing notes on Monday. The first two sections we read were on meditation and contemplation. I have to say, I think meditation is definitely one of the neglected disciplines. I mean, I've occasionally heard a pastor or speaker mention that we should meditate on God's word, but that's about it. I've never really known the nuts and bolts of how it's done.

The first section we read was written by Thomas More, an awesome dude who stood up to King Henry the Eighth (to six spouses was wedded. One died, one survived, two divorced, and two beheaded. Sorry, this always pops into my head whenever I hear King Henry the Eighth) and told him that it was wrong to divorce his wife and make himself head of the church. For his boldness, he was executed. But they do say that he went to his death gracefully, even joking with his executioners. Sounds like a good guy to me.

His work was a poem of some of his own meditations called "A Godly Meditation," and it almost takes my breath away. Each one of his lines is just amazing and full of depth. For example, he writes,

Gladly to be thinking of God,
Piteously to call for his help,
To lean unto the comfort of God,
Busily to labor to love him.

I mean, seriously. Am I really always glad to think of God? Do I eagerly turn my mind to him during the day? And what about "piteously to call for his help." His use of "piteously" reminds me exactly of my helpless position in this world. What can I do on my own? If I think that I can live life on my own, I find that I'm utterly mistaken and have to call for his help. I could go on, but I won't. Basically, More's whole poem is awesome. You should buy the book and read it.

The next section is written by Joyce Huggett. I'd never heard of her before, but I'm glad that I read her section. She actually explains the difference between meditation and contemplation (the former is more focused on scripture while the latter is more focused on God's love) and tells you practically how to do it yourself. Awesome stuff.

For me personally, I think mediation is easier. The point of meditation is to take a bit of head knowledge and roll it around it our heads until it "trickles down to our hearts." With meditation, I have something tangible to think about, to focus on. Contemplation, on the other hand, is hard for me to grasp. Instead of words, you're supposed to focus on God's love and let its reality envelop you. That seems so much more intangible, and I know I haven't "gotten" it. Although, I suppose that is the point of a discipline; it's hard and you have to practice it.

So I'd love to hear from you guys. Have any of you read anything from either of these guys? Or have you read/learned anything else about meditation and contemplation?


  1. I've read some excerpts of Thomas More, but I think watching a few episodes of the Tudors completely ruined my ability to think of him outside of that context. He was still awesome, but in a more ... amped-up? maybe? ... way.

    I've never been good at meditation OR contemplation. I inevitably drift off topic in my thoughts or fall asleep. I should work on it.

  2. I'm not good at meditation or comntemplation either. My thoughts drift around and have trouble staying focused. I always start one thought and inevitably end up jumping all around. But like you said, Laura, the point of discipline is to develop the art of a spiritual practice.

  3. Yeah, I've always been bad at drifting thoughts as well. One time I read that I should try writing down each distracting thought to put it out of my mind. It took maybe twenty minutes to get them all written down, but it really worked!


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