Thursday, May 07, 2009

Eugene Peterson on the contemplative life, quote #8

final entry:
Doing the right thing (reading scripture) but doing it in the wrong way (reading it impersonally for information or for principles that I can use to get ahead). Using impersonal ways and means will never bring about any congruence between the text and our lives and, of course, nothing remotely contemplative.

The contemplative life, growing toward congruence, is slow work. It cannot be hurried. It is also urgent work and cannot be put off. Life is deteriorating around us at a rapid pace, and the life at the center, the gospel life—with the elements of congregation and scripture as major pieces—is being compromised, distorted, degraded at an alarming rate. In the American way, slow and urgent are not compatible. They cancel one another out.

But in the Christian way, they are joined together. Urgent as this is, there is no hurry. Impatience cancels out contemplation. Patience is prerequisite. Formation of spirit, cultivation of soul, developing a contemplative life, realizing congruence between the way and truth—all this is slow, slow work requiring endless patience. Human life is endlessly complex, intricate and serious. There are no shortcuts to becoming the persons we're created to be. We can't pump contemplation on steroids.

Unfortunately, patience is not held in high regard in American society. We get faster and faster and we become less and less; our speed diminishes us.

read the entire essay here. It is adapted from a Christian Centure lecture.

1 comment:

Michael said...

how can there be no comments here? I guess stirring the pot is different than stirring the soul. I am catching up on your blog (reading it backwards) and it is a surprise to see no amens or oh mees here... how did you like that throw back?

These statements are scandalous, either because they are untrue or because they are true. In my own contemplation the word consistency has beckoned me or frustrated me since about the age of seventeen. I like the subtle difference in connotation that the word congruence evokes instead.