Crabgrass Contemplation

William Callahan, a former Jesuit, describes this kind of contemplation as "noisy contemplation," which seeks to build habits of contemplative prayer that can flourish in the ordinary surroundings of our day, including situations of tension and conflict.

Noisy contemplation is hearty prayer that resembles crabgrass, which ordinary people can grow in the noisy lowlands and hard-scrabble soil of their experiences. In the concrete jungle of urban streets, crabgrass springs up wherever a pavement crack offers the tiniest space. Likewise, crabgrass contemplation is sustainable because it can take place anywhere there is the tiniest space along our daily path.

We don't need to struggle with esoteric concepts of mystical theology to understand what crabgrass contemplation entails: Being contemplative is standing in wonder and awe at the routine miracles that keep our universe and our bodies functioning harmoniously.

Being contemplative entails going back regularly to objects of wonder and beauty : like a favorite stretch of beach or the face of someone long loved. Being contemplative involves a constant willingness to be taken by surprise; it is not being jaded and cynical.

Being contemplative requires being wide awake and fresh in our perceptions of people and things; it is not being distracted and filled with preoccupations and prejudices. Being contemplative is facing life in a genuinely undefended and open-eyed way. Being contemplative is being vulnerable, letting events and people impact us with their full resonance; it is not being controlling and manipulative.

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