I believe that the combination of human action from a contemplative center is the greatest art form. It underlies all those other, more visible art forms that we see in great sculpture, music, writing, painting, and most especially, in the art form of human character development. When the external life and the inner life are working together, we always have beauty, symmetry, and actual transformation of persons—lives and actions that inherently sparkle and heal, in part because they can integrate the negativity of failure, sin, and rejection and they can spot their own shadow games.
With most humans, the process begins on the action side; in fact, the entire first half of life for most of us, even introverts, is all about external action. We begin with crawling, walking, playing, speaking. We learn, we experiment, we try, we stumble, we fall. Gradually these enactments grow larger and more “mature,” but we remain largely unaware of our inner and actual motivations or purpose for any of it.
Yes, there are feelings and imaginings during this time, maybe even sustained study, prayer, or disciplined thought, but do not yet call that contemplation. These reflections are necessarily and almost always self-referential, both for good and ill. At this point, life is still largely about “me” and finding my own preferred and proper viewing platform. It has to be. But it is not yet the great art form of the calm union between our inner and outer lives. We must go further.
You cannot grow in the integrative dance of action and contemplation without a strong tolerance for ambiguity, an ability to allow, forgive, and contain a certain degree of anxiety, and a willingness to not know—and not even need to know. This ever widens and deepens your perspective. This is how you allow and encounter Mystery and move into the contemplative zone.
Adapted from Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World From a Place of Prayer, pp. 1,2, and 4.