God does most of the action in helping me be a contemplative. Three pieces of wisdom assist me to be receptive to that action. The first is a quotation from Mary Oliver’s poem, Yes! No!
“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
I try to pay attention to the world, others and myself. This takes time and some effort.
The second help is the reminder, “Come as you are!” For years, I thought that my best prayer time was when my life seemed to being going smoothly—like I was dressed in my Sunday best and with no spots on my clothes and no skinned knees. Of course, there aren’t too many days like that! Then I realized I could be in the Divine Presence just as I am—tired, happy, crabby, excited, sad, bored, angry, grateful, worried or calm. I feel like I am bringing my real self into a sacred space where I am accepted and loved as I am in this moment.
The third source of wisdom is a title of a book, Pray as You Can. I don’t remember reading the book, but I remember the title. Although I reserve a time for quiet each day, I have discovered so many ways to pray: participating in the Mass; watching a sunset, a daisy, or children on a teeter-totter; crying with grief; sitting quietly in a chapel, or car, or a waiting room; while walking or riding a real or recumbent bike; reflecting on the scriptures or on the goodness of friends; listening to a song over and over or listening to a broken-hearted person sharing their pain. As my life unfolds, I am drawn to various ways of praying. They are all good because they are flowing from our God.