Contemplation in a Troubled World


From August 9 - August 12, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) met in Assembly in Atlanta, Georgia.  The theme this year was Embracing the Mystery: Living Transformation.  We gathered as leaders of congregations of women religious, as members of the People of God, and as women deeply engaged in the life of the world in a diversity of ways and places. 


What is at the core of these gatherings has value for the world, for the Church.  That core is contemplation, attentiveness to the movements of the Spirit within and among all those gathered.  Every aspect and outcome of the Assembly is shaped by contemplation and the dialogue that flows from it. 


As keynote speaker, Pat Farrell, OSF, said so beautifully, "Contemplation is an intentional opening to that Life within our life,that Heart within our heart. To pray in silent attentiveness is to drop a plumb line into the all nourishing abyss of Holy Mystery. It is to drop within deeply enough to touch the Fertile Emptiness from which all creative movement springs."


In the midst of a chaotic world that sometimes seems as if it is on the verge of collapse, to pray in "silent attentiveness" can be a great challenge.  It can be very difficult to quiet down enough to "hear" God saying, “See I am doing something new! Now it springs forth. Can you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19)” To drop a plumb line into the depths of God requires choice not once but over and over again day after day, week after week, year after year all through life.  Dropping the line does not require violence but rather gentle, consistent determination to turn and turn again from the thoughts that are like flies in our brains. When we turn from, we turn toward, toward the Holy One Who is alluring us, who is, as Pat Farrell said, "at work in all of the complexities, uncertainties and crises swirling around us in our congregations and in our messy world." 


During the Assembly as we contemplated at our assigned tables of eight to ten, and among others in Deepening Groups, over and over again we became convinced that not only were women religious being called to personal contemplation but we were also being called to contemplate in common not only among ourselves but with others in all sorts of circumstances. 


Our turbulent world needs each of us to create moments and places of profound stillness in which God and the ways of God can be made manifest to all who are open to see and to hear the gentle movement of the Spirit. Taking time to simply be in the presence of God, is a response desperately needed in the world of our day.

Veronica Blake, SMR