I found the blog post, Six Ways to Experience Contemplation Online, to be an insightful guide to contemplative resources, and I couldn’t help but add my own whether virtual or physical, where I find support for my spiritual life.
By contemplation, I mean having a deeply reflective life, while still engaging with the world, through contemplative prayer, writing prompts that beckon me inward, practicing stillness and silence–these things that ground me in the circle of God’s love on a regular basis whether it is throughout my day, once a day, or sprinkled throughout my week to call me back to my center–my spiritual center. This is the place where all things spring from in my life, and without giving my time and attention to what is going on in my heart, I cannot attend to what is going on in my exterior world.
So, here is my humble list of how I support myself through word, place, idea, or app:
- Contemplative Outreach is an online resource where you can learn about centering prayer (see below), lectio divina, living a gratitude-rich life. This website is rich with information about these different ways to encounter God authentically, ways to connect with others in your area doing ministry, serving, praying, and living contemplatively.
- The Centering Prayer app is something I regularly use on my iPhone or iPad, and comes out of Contemplative Outreach. It is a helpful tool for anyone interested in or who already practices centering prayer. Not only does it offer resources and connection to the contemplative community, but it also has practical elements that guide you, times your prayer for you, and helps you conclude each session with a gentle sound and either scripture or other words of wisdom.
- The Examine app is something I’ve recently started using. It helps me land in my heartspace to process what is going on and to see trends in my emotional, spiritual, and even physical life over a period of time. The Daily Examen is an ancient practice that calls us to notice God’s work in our daily life, to pay attention to emotions, and to live in the lap of gratitude as we look forward to tomorrow. Here is more information about this approach to prayer.
- Abbey of the Arts is an “online global monastery without walls offering retreats, classes, books, and resources to nurture contemplative practice and creative expression.” Christine Valters Paintner, PhD is the founder and incorporates the monastic tradition into daily life. I highly recommend two of her books: Water, Wind, Earth, and Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements and Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice. Abbey of the Arts is a wonderful tool to discover a contemplative community that offers weekly emails to call you into your own contemplative life practice whether it is through the arts, photography, the natural world, prayer, or just by being still.
- The Center for Action and Contemplation offers practical support for contemplative living. You will find a bookstore, e-courses, daily meditations, homilies, and other things to help you meet God in a rich and real way. I have subscribed to Father Richard Rohr‘s daily meditation. I do not subscribe to many emails on a daily basis, but this is one that I actually read, send to others who are on my heart, and even use as a meditation tool. I have been blown away by the synchronicity of the topic with what is going on in my life. God uses many means to reach our hearts!
- One of my favorite spiritual support suggestions is to locate your own physical space where you can retreat from the world whether it be an hour, a day, a weekend, or a week to recharge your spiritual self. My spiritual home is The Monastery of the Holy Spirit. It is located in Conyers, Georgia, and is a very dear and sacred spot for me. This monastery is the closest thing to me geographically, so this is where I go for my spiritual retreats on a quarterly basis. Also, I feel spiritually safe here, which is very important. I do not feel any pressure to attend the retreat meetings if I feel the need to rest, write, read, or walk.
I’d love to hear about other resources you use to facilitate your contemplative lifestyle or what has served you as you seek to support your spiritual self.