Richard Rohr’s, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See is an excellent look at contemplative prayer as, “a nondualistic way of seeing the moment.” Rohr highlights the importance of Presence and how ego interferes with our ability to see things as they are. “How you see is what you see.” It’s a call for true conversion and transformation. When Jesus says, “Repent!”, it’s a call to change your mind, and ultimately to change the way you see. This is the mystic way.
I’m rereading a classic book, Centering Prayer, by M. Basil Pennington that is a lovely introduction to Centering Prayer and contemplation. He describes the art of centering prayer as going “beyond thought and image, beyond the senses and the rational mind, to that center of our being where God is working a wonderful work.” Don’t we all want to rest there!
Father Thomas Keating is most recognized for reintroducing Christian contemplative practices to the west. He founded the Contemplative Outreach with the intent of offering traditional contemplative practices to the “common folk.” Reawakenings is a collection of sermons by Father Keating that examines gospel passages through a contemplative lens. In one of my favorite chapters, reflecting upon Jesus’ disciples’ terrifying response to a storm they faced at sea, Keating says, the intent of contemplative prayer is to “demolish the monumental illusion that God is absent.”