Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A CONTEMPLATIVE BOOK REVIEW

I WOULD LIKE TO SEE MYSELF AS A CONTEMPLATIVE person, but after reading Carl McColman's, Answering the Contemplative Call: First Steps on the Mystical Path, I have come to realize that the role of the contemplative Christian is not always so, how should I say, contemplative.

That being said, I did find McColman's work enlightening and helpful in moving toward a life that seeks to know God better and at the same time seeks to work out that relationship with fear and trembling in the midst of the world that knows little of either God or contemplation, by that I mean a life that purposefully seeks to slow down enough to listen for the still small voice of the Spirit.

I appreciated the author's work of history-telling; placing the call to the contemplative life in the midst of the lives of those from the distant, and not so distant, past. If for no other reason, the book was worth reading to gain insight into the lives of those who the church has seen as setting the bar for the contemplative life. I appreciated having their histories given in light of both their successes and their failures.  Maybe a better word than "failures" would be in their humanness.

As one who is personally drawn to this call, I found encouragement in the revelation that one need not be super spiritual to move forward. I also appreciated the author's practical suggestions for opening ones heart to the life that would lead to a deeper walk with the Lord.

It was also good to note, that the contemplative life is not just one of ivory towers or desert caves, but also includes the living out of ones walk in areas of justice and compassion.

Toward the end of the book, McColman directs the reader to the desires of Julian of Norwich, he writes that she was a,
"woman of prayer who prayed to know Christ's passion as fully as has she could, and who prayed for what she called the 'three wounds' of true contrition, compassion, and the willful longing to God. In other words she wanted to be 'opened up'-- for a wound is an opening, a breach in our defenses,-- by authentic sorrow for her misdeeds, genuine love for others, and a heartfelt longing for God." 


This is a high call, to be sure, but one which grabs at my own soul.

This is not a wound that is easily borne, or that ever truly heals once it is opened, but when it is open by and for God, it allows the Great Physician of our souls to do His miraculous work of healing to that heart that is truly broken before Him and before others. In worship before the Sovereign Lord, and service before a needy world.

The book is at once both deep and challenging, but also leaves the reader with a hope and desire to seek answer the call of the contemplative life, a life I believe was not meant for monks and nuns, but for all who truly seek to know, worship and serve the God who is Love, in a world in desperate need of that Love.

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