One morning the mystic, monk and poet Thomas Merton realised, to his surprise, that contemplation is not about the acquisition of a consciousness emptied of everything except thoughts of God. It is the opposite – not movement towards a distant God but a sinking into a deeper awareness of one’s own life and to find God already there. Contemplation … was not a different state to our usual way of being. There is only one reality. Our hours and our days are divided not between time spent with God or with the world but between those occasions when we are more, or less, aware of God’s presence in our experiences – when we are more, or less, distracted from that presence by the heartaches of our work.
“It is enough to be in an ordinary human mode, with one’s hunger and sleep, one’s cold and warmth, rising and going to bed, putting on blankets and then taking them off, making coffee and then drinking it,’ he wrote. ‘Also defrosting the refrigerator, reading, meditating … Contemplation is a way of being really inside our own daily experiences. We are in contemplation when we perform the routine tasks of our lives so as to perceive in them that our lives are not little, anonymous or not important anymore, but that what’s timeless, eternal, is the ordinariness of things.”
Daniel O’ Leary