Timing Is Everything.
I had been told about the Contemplative Service and the Center for Christian Spirituality at Chapelwood UMC almost a decade ago by well-meaning and loving friends. They said it was a perfect match for me. The initial observation and invitation fell on deaf ears. I could not see what others or what God saw. At that time in my life, I had been intensely involved and dedicated to the Music and Fine Arts Ministry at the church I had called home. My life was all about song, music, drama, praise and worship and prayer and activity and volunteering and more activity and rehearsals, and Sunday School classes, and prayer groups, and Bible studies, and women’s ministry, potlucks and on and on.
But life and circumstances change. I found myself no longer being fed by a frenzied life in the church. And actually I found myself just plain exhausted and burnt out. I was frustrated with the changes around me that I could not predict or control. I found that many of the relationships with others that I had cherished and could count on were no longer on the radar. People were living their lives, children were growing up, moving on and that just meant more change. It was time for me to look at myself and really listen to what I needed on a deeper level. After giving so much of myself away, it was time to be fed.
And, yet there was still a very intense tug in my heart. I found myself seeking God alone in ways that didn’t match what I had experienced before. It was a deep intensification of yearning that was insatiable. I had come to a fork in the road and realized it was a calling to self. I had this need to become me. It was an invitation by God to become precisely the person I was born to be. Maybe a silly statement on the surface, but if you are a contemplative, one would understand the depth and clarity of this concept. It was time to be true to myself. I began to recognize the person I had so buried in business and activity.
To be contemplative, you must listen deeply to the questions that arise in the stillness or the silence – you must sit and wait for them to surface. You must be prepared for anything, really – the bizarre, the mundane, the ordinary, the simple, and the profound. One must intentionally make space – an uninterrupted appointment with self and the divine – for God. That is what I do now, every Sunday morning in the Contemplative Service here at Chapelwood. I eagerly come with open mind, heart and spirit; ready to listen, ready to hear, ready to see with my heart. I try to check my ego at the door, though sometimes it tags along. But that’s okay, because God meets us exactly how and where we are, despite our circumstances, our burdens, our misgivings, and our questions or lack of them and even when our ego is still attached.
I so look forward to Sunday mornings. This is because of the precious gifts offered to me through the Contemplative Worship service, even though from week to week I never know what to expect, what I will hear or see, think or feel. What I do know is that it is a safe and inviting place to sit and be myself, just as I am that very day. I know I will see Christ, in the faces of others who come and sit with me in the Chapel. I know I will hear God’s voice as scripture is read in a slow and thoughtful manner. I know my heart will be touched as I ponder over poetry or prose that is presented in a loving yet gentle way. I know God meets each one of us as we partake in the Bread and the Cup of weekly Holy Communion. I know I am connected as stories or recollections or memories are shared by the worship team. I know my heart will find rest and hope in the melody played spirit-fully by the pianist. I know I am loved, adored, and cherished just as I am, wherever life has me in this moment. I know some days there will be tears and there will be laughter, and maybe both on the same morning. And I know I belong to this community of seekers as we journey together in God’s invitation.
Will you not join us some day?