Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Finding God in Contemplative Attentiveness

by Sister Eppie Brasil, OP

When was the last time have you experienced being kissed by the breeze? If you have never felt that, come to RICA! Yes, I mean it. But you have to be quiet and be still to notice and to experience. That is the only way to become aware that you are being kissed by the breeze.

St John of the Cross, the great Carmelite Mystic (1542-1591), experienced so much beauty and so much suffering, too. He never separated the two. He called it loving attention or attencion amorosa. When we are attentive to what we do, what we say, where we are going, what we are hearing, tasting, feeling… we join the mystical and poetic way of life. I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in the place where St. John of the Cross wrote his beautiful poems in Segovia, Spain. I saw what he saw on that lovely spring day. I also felt the surging of joy within as I watched the sun rise in the hills in the hazy morning fog. The snow-capped mountain lets me breathe the crisp air of the morning. I was transported through time, when I sat, where he sat in the mountain ledge, feeling the soft breeze caressing my face. It was indeed an experience that made me realize I can find God in contemplative attentiveness.

Contemplation is described in the book, The Cloud of Unknowing, a 14th century treatise as: "The awareness of God, known and loved at the core of one’s being.” When we seek this awareness, every moment is an experience of God found in tears and in laughter, in joy and in sorrow, in beauty and in the ugly. We accept them all as part of God’s creation and divine plan.

As we face all the megatrends in our century, trends like urbanization (the need to live in the urban areas) and mobilization (the need to be always on the go), we are called ever more deeply to respond to the call to be mystics in the world today.  The great theologian, Karl Rahner (1904-1984) writes that with the breakdown of cultural Christianity in the West, "the devout Christian of the future will either be a 'mystic', one who has experienced something, or he will cease to be anything at all." 

Jesus has gifted us with His presence. He is risen from the dead.  Jesus is alive! Jesus invites His disciples to touch Him, see Him, and feel Him; to listen to His words, “Peace be with you”! He showed them how He enjoyed the taste of baked fish! In a word, he sanctified the senses. He is alive. He invites us to be alive, too!!! To see, smell, hear, taste, feel. To be aware, alert, attentive, alive! This is what contemplative attentiveness means. Be alive. Notice, look, observe, experience.  Taste and see, how good our God is.

As I walk around Regina RICA, I am filled with awe by the gifts of color I see, sounds I hear, different aromas of herbs and flowers I smell. (That includes the smell of horse, carabao, duck, chicken and sheep dung); I delight in the green and blue neck feathers of the peacocks, the black belly of the sheep, the sheer energy of our Labrador, Sam and Carla. Contemplative attentiveness is very simple. It is accepting the heat and the cold, the comfort and discomfort, the music and the noise, the big tree and the small shrub, the concrete building and the nipa hut… just stay still, pause awhile and discover the blessing of being attentive to the gift of the now.
Our Lady on top of the hill, (tawag ng mga tao sa kanya “ ang malaking Virgen sa taas ng bundok”) shows us how to be attentive and how to be a contemplative. Mary kept and pondered all things in her heart. Be still, be!

The gift of AWARENESS will teach us contemplative attentiveness. It is a new way of living where we seek to:

         A ccept our dark side, dark moments, dark moods
         W aste time for God
         A llow events to happen, God has plans for us
         R enew our dedication to a new way of living
         E xperience God in the ordinary as well as in extraordinary events
         N urture our spirit, the society, our self, the soil
         E nter in loving relationships
         S eek solitude
         S pend time in silence


About the Sharer

Sister Eppie Brasil, OP is a prayer companion. She teaches contemplation as a way of life. She is the founder of the Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii and Regina RICA in Tanay Rizal.

Keywords: OP Sisters, Contemplation, Silence, Still, Awareness, Mystic

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