The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Ps 19:1)
Returning to Evelyn Underhill’s Practical Mysticism she suggests that one interested in beginning the spiritual discipline of meditation start “with that first form of contemplation which the old mystics sometimes call the ‘the discovery of God in his creatures.’” Meditating on creation is a contemplative form that lends itself to practice at any moment during the day when you can view the world around you. By focusing on His creation from its grandest examples such as the Sierra Nevada or the Grand Canyon to its most minute in the tiny flowers of the Verbena. You seek to encounter God through the glory proclaimed in all that he created, in whatever form it takes. Allow yourself to meditate on the symmetry of the flower, at the wonder of its shape and color. From the tiny stamens your meditation can move to reflect on the thousands and thousands of types and colors of flower in the creation and glory at the creative mind that brought them all to life. Your soul will find its humility and allow you to commune even closer with your Father.
“So slothful, however, is man in all that concerns his higher faculties, that few deliberately undertake this education at all. They are content to make their contacts with things by a vague, unregulated power, ever apt to play truant, ever apt to fail them.” Evelyn Underhill – Practical Mysticism
The meditative process known in Christian circles as recollection is simple to understand. It is time that you will devote solely to becoming still and silent through intentional action. Taking your thoughts captive into silence is an effort of the will to keep the senses in check and not allow them to stray off onto different avenues. All of the contemplative focus is limited to a single subject, the love of God.
Foster describes the Quaker practice of ‘centering down’, a part of the Quaker meeting practices. The worshiper begins by placing the palms down as a physical indication of one’s desire to give over your concerns to God. The palms down position releases the concern. If you wish to receive from the Lord, the position is reversed with the palms up. The practice continues until you released everything within you and are prepared to commune with the Lord. The centered mind can enter the silence of that communion.
Teresa of Avila was a proponent of these focusing exercises, practicing them daily. She explain that the practice is called “recollection because the soul collects together all the faculties and enters within itself to be with God.” (The Way of Perfection) It may sound mystical but it is not. The disciplines are meant for all people of the Lord and He will grace us with the gifts and abilities necessary for their practice. All we have to do is ask.
Image by Keraoc