“Contemplation is a long loving look at the real.”
–Fr. William McNamara
Most mornings, weather permitting, I begin my day sitting here in our contemplation garden. I sit alone, or with Delta Mae, in contemplation, sipping coffee, hoping to center myself in silence, stillness, and solitude. The intention is to sit here until I’m ready to start the day.
How do I know when I’m ready? Not surprisingly, ready means different things day to day. Mostly, I’m ready to stand up to start the day when I feel whole. For some folks, I suppose whole might mean complete, or put together. But for me, whole is when I feel more real, at least more real than when I sat down. You might say I feel a bit less independent, judged, accomplished, or broken. Truthfully, I feel whole when I feel more like part of the garden. Steady, poised, rooted.
Often, the garden will offer me a gift in contemplation.
Look at these milkweed. Look at how they stand tall, day after day, boldly growing toward the sun. Their brilliant flowers have passed. The spectacular monarchs, drawn to their blossoms, have moved on. Now, they wait for autumn. In a month or so, each velvety pod will crack open to release silky seeds across the morning breeze. And, as the air turns cold, their thick green leaves and sturdy stems will wither, turn a dusty brown, and fall, unceremoniously back to the earth.
This morning I see dignity, I see humility, and I see what’s real.