The writer and teacher Father Richard Rohr referred to contemplation as the lost tradition in Christianity. Contemplation is a radically simple yet perpetually elusive spiritual practice. It is the practice of focusing one’s life on God in the here and now. Contemplation is a posture of living in the present, free of longing for what was, free of worrying about what will be. It’s all about pondering and embracing what is and pursuing what the here and now means for our lives.
To truly contemplate something requires time, reflection, and intention. It’s a mind-set that fathoms the present season, a soul pursuit of thriving in the here and now. Our spiritual lives require contemplation as well. We need time to focus on our spirituality now. We need to reflect on our whens and wheres to make sense of our lives and be intentional in faithfully living them.
In the tumult of your twenties, when the prevailing world around you encourages you to obsess about your future or plan the next adventure, taking time for contemplation can seem impossible. If you’re too busy planning the next trip, binge-watching the next Netflix show, or keeping tabs on what all your friends are posting on social media, you’re living a distracted life, not a contemplative one.
Being contemplative in your twenties requires practice. Ask yourself, What contemplative spiritual activities am I waiting to fit into my life that I need to be engaging in now? What practices should I hold off implementing until I’m in a different season in life?
Jess and I have developed a simple gut-check test that can help you answer this question. Be honest with yourself and consider how often you’ve used the following phrase when thinking about your faith: “When I _____, then I will ______.” For example,
- When I graduate from college and have a more structured day, then I’ll pray regularly.
- When I get more settled in my new job, then I’ll read more spiritual texts.
- When my baby starts sleeping through the night, then I’ll take morning walks in my neighborhood.
When you make such statements, you’re deferring the contemplative life, looking idealistically to the future and neglecting opportunities to cultivate healthy spirituality here and now.
But, if you’re honest, you likely realize that some spiritual practices are better suited for future seasons of life. A more appropriate statement to consider is this: “When I _____, then I will _____. Until then I will ________.” The extra blank makes all the difference! To fill in the final blank, ask yourself these questions:
What do my twenties afford my inner life that other seasons cannot?
What does it look like to be grateful in the here and now for the life I have?
Contemplation is a gift to nourish our souls. It allows us to look inward so that we can look beyond ourselves. It calls us, as our dear friend and colleague Dr. Kevin Diller has said, to not “be slaves of self obsession but lovers and liberated servants of all that is good, beautiful, and true.”
Is this not the Christian life, the best way to consider what it means to be a disciple? We think it is.
You’ve been reading with Dr. Drew Moser and Jess Fankhauser from Ready Or Not: Leaning into Life in Our Twenties. Read the first chapter here. Dive deeper on your calling and vocation on Drew’s website- understandyourcalling.com.