I’ve been musing on a more contemplative way of living. My outer world swirls…a lot. Some of it is painful. If I were to give into it, I’d be sucked into the vortex. People I love are suffering and I can’t fix it. There are things only God can do…and they’re done on his timetable. Waiting around has never been my strong suit, but I’m finding a space to hold steady and trust.
Contemplatives understand this space. I used to think contemplatives and mystics were reclusive while the world was going to hell in a handbasket around them. That didn’t seem right. But then I thought of the priest in Les Miserable. His inner world informed his contact with his fellow humans. Without this space, his reaction to Jean Valjean might have been completely different…and completely un-redemptive. There’s something so attractive about the kind of life that isn’t anchored to life’s swirls. It knows they’re real. It grieves them. It engages them. But it’s not defined by them.
In a recent post from the Center for Action and Contemplation, Laura Swan explored the word “apatheia.” It’s a state of equanimity, but to be clear, not apathy. It helps explain this space.
“Apatheia is a mature mindfulness, a grounded sensitivity, and a keen attention to one’s inner world as well as to the world in which one has journeyed.” It is an “intentional letting go of all that keeps us from the single-minded pursuit of God: feelings and thoughts that bind us, cravings and addictions that diminish our sense of worth, and attachments to self-imposed perfectionism.”
I suppose there are as many explanations of this space as there are people on the planet. I just call it the space where God is. The space where Love is.
But whatever you call it, it changes everything.