It is ironic that it was exactly 75 years ago this week that the Japanese…
Who would have thought just six months ago that the whole world would be shut down and almost brought to a standstill not by a natural disaster, war or catastrophic global event, but by a tiny virus that was powerful enough to bring to a halt almost all our favourite activities and pastimes, sporting events, socialising, shopping, dining out, travel and even workplaces?
For many it was almost a welcome relief and a compulsory stopping of the world so we could get off momentarily, take a break from the busyness and the madness, catch our breath and take time to think, to reflect and to listen.
Whether we realize it or not, we all need times of rest, solitude and quiet. A place to let go of all the external noises and distractions so that we can begin to hear the things that are truly important. There is a world of activity happening deep inside each of us that we rarely connect with that is the very core of who we are. In the stillness, we not only find out what is happening inside our deepest being, but we also connect with a stillness and peace that goes far deeper than ourselves. It is what the Psalmist said is a time to ‘Be still and know that I am God.’
We can all so easily get caught up in negative uncontrolled thought life, that researchers say is a major contributing factor to most illnesses. What we think about affects us mentally, emotionally and physically. The truth is if we knew how powerful our thoughts are, we would never think a negative thought. Meditation and especially contemplation are two traditions or practices that have been lost or overlooked but are now being rediscovered as a valuable path to true peace and inner healing.
It is interesting that the most powerful and effective programmes in many prisons in the USA have been the teaching of contemplative prayer and its ability to transform the lives of prisoners by changing mindsets. Most of the men in prisons discover that they are angry and violent because they have deep wounds, largely due to abuse, fatherlessness and rejection and that they are really sad and lonely individuals trapped in the prison of their own minds.
It was the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams who said:
Contemplation is the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom-freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that comes from them.”
Some of the greatest ‘thinkers’ throughout history have been those who have found true freedom and peace while in compulsory lockdown! The Apostle Paul said while in prison that “what has happened to me has only served to advance the gospel.” Others such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela to name just a few have had the greatest influence because they discovered that to change society always begins with the journey of transformation of the inner self.