Unseen water

Gill Pennington, writing in The Friend, quotes John O’Donohue:

The spirit of a time is an incredibly subtle, yet hugely powerful force. And it is comprised of the mentality and spirit of all individuals together. Therefore, the way you look at things is not simply a private matter. Your outlook actually and concretely affects what goes on. When you give in to helplessness, you collude with despair and add to it. When you take back your power and choose to see the possibilities for healing and transformation, your creativity awakens and flows to become an active force of renewal and encouragement in the world. In this way, even in your own hidden life, you can become a powerful agent of transformation in a broken, darkened world.

Absent a theistic metaphysics of prayer, I have often been puzzled how to explain to myself, let alone anyone else, my persistent sense that there really is some point to the contemplative life beyond the sort of solipsistic self-improvement promised by some of the more widely advertised meditation apps. O’Donohue has nailed it, and I am grateful to Gill Pennington for the passage she quoted in her Thought for the Week in The Friend.

Being fully present to all we encounter in this moment as it is, rather than as we might wish, or fear, it to be, we are present as aerials, signs, receiving stations. Even, perhaps especially, in “[our] own hidden life”, we  become a source of healing and peace. Hiddenness itself, the hiddenness of practice, of silence and stillness, comes like unseen water to a dry land.

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