Monday, March 1, 2010

Active-Contemplative Paradox

One of my challenges is finding the time for spiritual practice and reflection. I am hoping that this blog can become of the one places that I make time for reflection, for reading and lifting out of the day-to-day.  So in that spirit, I just picked up the book The Active Life: A Spirituality of Work, Creativity and Caring by Parker Palmer.

As I started reading the book, I realize that I share Palmer's struggle to balance the contemplative life with an active life. This appeals to me as I don't have time to meditate for an hour a day or much time at all it seems to devote to a spiritual practice. What is it I need to remain grounded? to take care of myself? To not get so caught up in the day to day of the work that I forget why I do it?

He wrote the book after he left the intentional monastic community that was for people who are working, both men and women that did not require celibacy. He discovered that he was not a monk.

He groups the active life into work, creativity and caring. He says his aim it to show the contemplative-active paradox. I know for myself I have real moments of depth and connection and aliveness in my work. There is no place I would rather be than at my congregation on Sunday morning. There is aliveness to listening and talking to the college students as they trust me with their stories. It is a feeling that I am doing exactly what I should be doing. Yet I also know that the work can also take over...erasing boundaries. I can lose sight of having a personal life...of making time for my family of making time for myself.

So I look forward to reading more of the book and reflecting on how I can live in the active-contemplative paradox!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post Margaret and deserved a comment. I was googling 'active-contemplative' and found it. I'm a Deputy Principal in an Australian Catholic school, reading Merton and Nouwen and will need to read some Parker Palmer on your recomendation. Unlike yours my church experience doesn't nourish my spiritual life much but I don't give up on it. But I think there's a way of living in this that is the answer for today's thirst for a way of being spiritually alive yet active as lay people in the world. So thanks.- Tony