Experience the Holy Spirit in Contemplation | 02

AUTHOR: Holy Scripture

READ:

Read or listen to Luke 10:38–42.

While they were traveling, he entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”

The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”

How does Mary’s undivided attention to Jesus challenge you?

The written Scripture is CSB, however, the audio Scripture is ESV.

FOCUS:

Read or listen to the blog. What is one thing you learned about what it means to lovingly gaze on Jesus? How can you incorporate what you learned into your daily routines? For example, I will pay attention to the beauty in nature around me, and acknowledge that it is from the hand of God.

What does Mary teach us about undivided attention to Jesus?

By Ben Beasley

 


What can we do to cultivate unhurried time and space to give Jesus our undivided attention?

The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary….” (Luke 10:41-42)

One thing is necessary. 

But wait, there are emails. There are the dishes to be loaded in the dishwasher. There’s that meeting to prep for at noon. There’s an event on Saturday that I don’t have clothes for so I have to go shopping. There is the constant ping of the phone from the boss man. It never stops. 

One thing is necessary. Mary got it. Martha didn’t. 

The philosopher Simon Weil once wrote in a letter to a friend about the need to develop a better capacity to focus our attention on one thing: “…prayer consists of attention. It is the orientation of all the attention of which the soul is capable towards God. The quality of attention counts for much in the quality of the prayer. Warmth of heart cannot make up for it…”

Cultivating a capacity for focused attention has a direct relationship with Jesus’ words that one thing is necessary. Our capacity for focused attention informs our ability to even remember that one thing is necessary. And even more, our capacity for focused attention will offer us a higher quality of contemplative connection to God.

How do we cultivate unhurried time and space, and ultimately cultivate a capacity for attention like Mary?

Here are three tips:

 

Increase your general capacity for focused attention.

Simon Weil was actually writing the quote above in a letter talking about how students should train their capacity for attention in their learning. Her point is that as students increase their capacity for dedicated focused attention in math, it’s that same dedicated focused attention that will be of use in prayer. Thus, developing focused attention in study, is the same kind of attention that we direct toward God.

What is your capacity for focused attention? Are there ways outside of the normal spiritual disciplines to increase it? Through reading? Through painting? Woodworking? Birdwatching? Through active listening to good music? Our ability for unhurried focused attention in these places is the same attention we bring to God in prayer.

 

Design your life with open space.

In a world dominated by the next thing–the next meeting, the next email, the next task, the next whatever, sometimes we need to hack the system. The next thing in your daily schedule should be an open space. A space of focusing your attention on God. 

This can be a 15 minute walk. A 10 minute period with your office door closed. A 10 minute period of silence in your car during lunch. 

Scheduling moments of open space, not for our minds to wander, but for our minds to focus our attention on God, is an important part of growing in our capacity to give Jesus our undivided attention in contemplation.

 

Grow in sensitivity and gentleness.

Mother Teresa once was asked what she prays and she answered, “I listen.” And she was then asked, “What does God say?” And she said, “He doesn’t say anything. He listens. And if you don’t understand that, then you don’t understand prayer” (paraphrase).

As we think of our times of prayer, we need to be gentle. Gentle with ourselves and gentle with God. Listening to God, attention to God, requires both sensitivity and gentleness. It requires gentleness because we are so easily distracted and we must be gentle in our own correction of ourselves when we wander. And it requires sensitivity, sensitivity to our emotions, our bodies, our thoughts, our space, and ultimately, a growing sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and how God might be opening to us.

May we continue to grow to be like Mary, with an increased capacity to remember and focus on the One who is necessary. 

PRAY:

Holy Spirit, set my gaze on Jesus and rid me of distractions.

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Week 2 of 8 Contemplation

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