>Day 8: Graceful presence

>Give your chalicer success today
By granting me favor

In the presence of all I meet.

Teaching: Shut up and pray!

While I am here waiting I must do only one more thing. Only one thing do I lack. I must shut up and pray. Now, grace-filled, splashing Wine all around, I am present.

This is where I can grasp the difference between spiritual prayer and soulful contemplation. The first one is discursive and temporal. It can be described, analyzed, taught. It is a skill, an art and a science. It is a psychology and an anthropology. This is because prayer moves in, and is propelled by, spirit. There is so much spirit in my life, and I am not saying spirit is bad. Spirit is energy-for-good, it is love-for-healing, it is searching for temporal solutions for temporal problems. When I am wrapped in spiritual prayer I can petition, I can give thanks, I can adore, I can confess my sins. There is so much in spiritual life! But it is also limited, entropic, finite. There is only so much spirit, even though it feels immense. Spirit is like the ocean, and I am the fish.

In comparison soul is like outer space: infinite, dark. It is not silent as an absence of loud noises, it is silent because there is no room for sound. While spirit is hollow, soul is sincerely solid. In soul there is no possibility of change since there is no place for change to happen. Soulfully I contemplate the beauty of Jesus all the days of my life, I am filled with grace upon grace, presence upon presence, eighty times eighty. Think of an empty space: spirit is vacuum, soul is plenum. Spirit is sea to the soul’s fire – you can navigate the sea, fire is impenetrable. Spirit is the changing sun while soul is moon.

It is important to keep in mind that from the place of spirit, soul is The Rock. From the place of soul there is no spirit.

As chalicer I carry spirit to spirits. I refill that cup with the water-blood of the soulful present. I fill it now and give it then. I carry goblets of Rock for all to drink. I bring Water to the drowning. Do you need prayer? Drink the Rock-Water. Do you need healing? Look upon the bronze Rock dripping Blood. Do you need guidance? Use the Rock as your pillow.

Most important is to remember that while I can, and do, work at my prayer and my spiritual life, and in fact am held accountable for that, the contemplation of the soul is given to me by God. It is a grace. I cannot force it. The rock either drops or does not in the still lake. The lake cannot force the rings of ripples upon its own surface, no more than I can force soulful contemplation through spiritual work.

The fruit of soulful contemplation is graceful presence. Having had the hollowness of my spirit filled by the soul I am able to be gracefully present. It is with gentle hands that I fish, it is with gentle hands that I reel you in, it is with gentle hands that I cook you, bless you, brake you and serve you to Jesus, and when he is ready, and if he so desires, he will take that meager fish and feed thousands.

This is how this contemplative chalicer, deep into this present moment, brings the cup of salvation to the world: I shut up and pray.


About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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