I am home from a contemplative prayer retreat that was a tremendous blessing. I spent Tuesday afternoon through Thursday afternoon practicing the presence of God, as Brother Laurence calls it. What a journey.
On Wednesday morning, I became convinced that despite all of my desire to be a contemplative, I am lousy at it. I spent my morning walk along the beach thinking mostly of the future, rather than paying attention to God in the present moment.
But I found that one of my retreat companions was onto something when she said that coming on retreat as like being emptied out first, so that God has room to fill me up again. I did not begin to feel filled until Wednesday evening, after day and a half of spending time, mostly in silence, thinking, observing, reflecting, praying.
Now, I feel really relaxed, present, and without anxiety. I felt God working on me throughout the retreat to give up worry, anxiety, and rushing around. As the retreat was closing, I had flash of insight that I really hope I can carry into my daily routine. I realized that God has converted four days of my week into days that are largely free of rushing and anxiety. Fridays, I relax just because it is Friday, regardless of the state of my sermon. From Fridays-Mondays, I am able to put worries out of my mind and just be. The trouble is, I put them off until Tuesday, and I spend Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday stressed, anxious, and cramming too much work into too little time. So what I hope to do is allow God to convert the other three days of my week. It's really just a matter of how I perceive the days. Right now, I give myself permission, perhaps even expect myself to be frenzied. If I can just banish that expectation altogether, I will feel much more like a contemplative!