Last night my younger daughter, Jamie, prepared dinner at our house. The entire dinner was Japanese. (She spent over a month in Japan as a part of a study abroad semester. During this month, she lived with a wonderful Japanese family.) She wanted to prepare the kind of food that she might eat at her Japanese family’s home. It was wonderful! Every dish had meaning and purpose. After tutoring me on the art of using chopsticks (I probably got a C- on that one.), she told about each dish and what she remembered about eating that dish in Japan. It was not a dinner to be eaten hastily.
This morning I have been reading from the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun regarding "Contemplation." I love what she writes in the first two paragraphs of that chapter (p. 49):
We are hasty people bent on experiencing as much of life as we can. The faster we move, the more we can see, do and produce. The more we network, the more options will be ours. The more options, the more living we can do. For many of us the very notion of slowing down or saying no to an option is repugnant. We crowd our schedules and run late, but at least we are getting our money’s worth. No wonder contemplation has fallen on hard times. In a world where people anchor their identity on the shifting seas of performance and accomplishments, contemplation seems inefficient and too unproductive for the daily grind.
But it is contemplation, not just having experiences, that truly opens us wide to life. Experiences can be lost to us in the mad rush to simply accumulate more. Contemplation invites us to enter in to the moment with a heart alive to whatever might happen. It is not just thinking about or analyzing an event or person. Contemplation asks us to see with faith, hope and love. It asks us to seek God and the "meanings" threaded through our days and years, so that our experience of being embedded in the triune life of God deepens and grows.