Thoughts on Contemplative Prayer

By: Michael D. McIntosh

This is fairly new to me (the terminology that is), of praying silently. When I first began to understand the goodness of God I was at a small private High-school. The Spirit in that school was barely breathing. It was unfortunately an awful excuse of an education and a joke of anything spiritual. The only good from the school I received was a modern translation of scripture and two Christian women who are still a part of my life today. I’m not sure how it happened but something pulled me in those pages, something so foreign, yet something so familiar. I felt like a child being wooed to his mother’s breast: “drink child, I know your thirst.” All I had known was darkness, and now I was being given light and milk. I saw, I tasted – and it was good. This whole Jesus thing was good, and had become more satisfying than I had expected. Outside the classrooms was a balcony that overlooked an old oak tree. It grew alongside a parking lot, and was honestly just as appealing as a lawn would be in someone’s front yard. Yet that common oak became something marvelous to me, its leaves seem to glisten in green with every ray of sunshine, turning-twirling and bending with the wind and its bark seemed to grow richer in color by the moment. There was either a new tree, or I had gotten new eyes. Either way I was stunned in awe by the radiance of that oak. I would lean out against that railing, head in hands, and eyes on earth, glancing at how extraordinary the ordinary had become to me. It was in those moments my mouth lay still, and I begin to speak in silence, uttering words my mind hadn’t known, but my heart understood. I lacked the terminology then, but that tree was my first teaching on the prayer that surpasses language.

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