Entering the Inner Sanctuary: An Invitation to  Contemplation

03 Jan

winter_cabin_reflection

In Minnesota, where I was born and raised, we would joke that we experienced only two seasons: winter and road construction. January and February were the coldest months, with temperatures well below zero degrees keeping us indoors at all times, even during recess at school.

Despite my dislike of the intense cold, there was something about winter that I loved. My perfect picture of serenity was to sit by a crackling fireplace, wrapped up in a cozy blanket, sipping hot cocoa and reading or contemplating life, while soft flakes of white slowly and steadily blanketed the ground in snowy insulation. Those heavy snows would create a kind of quiet that was almost palpable. The silence was deafening—and wonderful.

Winter is a natural season to slow down, settle in, and find that inward place of quiet that is so rare in this time of constant noise, distraction, and hustle. It’s the perfect time to break away from the busyness and take a few moments for introspection and soul care—to attend to the deeper places of our hearts that often go ignored.

The natural world models this for us—something I suspect God did intentionally to teach us a healthy rhythm of life. Take trees, for example. In order to survive the freezing temperatures of winter, a tree goes into a state of hibernation. It basically stops growing. All of its stored energy is used to maintain its health until spring, when the growth cycle will resume (learn more about the process here). It’s as if the trees “turn inward” and hunker down for awhile.

Richard Foster, one of my favorite authors on Christian spiritual formation, writes something reminiscent of this in his first book, Celebration of Discipline: “If we hope to move beyond the superficialities of our culture, including our religious culture, we must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation.”

I love that phrase, “we must be willing to go down into the recreating silences.” Introspection, which means “to look inside,” holds many gifts when done well. It is in the depths that we find those areas of our lives that need special attention—the places God wants to heal and re-create in us. This is not a comfortable or easy process, but one that is necessary if we want to become more in tune to Christ and more like him.

Sitting in stillness and silence creates space for the conversations the Holy Spirit wants to have with us. Simply being still before God can be a powerful shaping tool in our lives. Foster describes how a deep peace can begin to saturate our souls in those places of silence—a peace that we then carry with us back into the busyness of our lives.

Jesus modeled this for us. Foster writes, “In the midst of an exceedingly busy ministry Jesus made a habit of withdrawing to ‘a lonely place apart’ (Matt. 14:13). He did this not just to be away from people, but so he could be with God. What did Jesus do time after time in those deserted hills? He sought out his heavenly Father; he listened to him, he communed with him. And he beckons us to do the same.”

During the next couple of months the Novo / CRM blog will be a door to deeper places of silence and contemplation. We’ll offer reflective prompts to help you dig deeper—in your spiritual life, your significant relationships, and your direction and decisions.

Whether or not you utilize these prompts for reflection, if you sense the Spirit urging you to slow down, be still, and enter the inner sanctuary of the soul, I hope you will pay attention. There’s no better time to heed the still, small voice and open your heart and life to God than the present moment.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Megan Reynolds lives in Aurora, CO, with her husband Dean. Megan has served with Novo / CRM since 2014, primarily as a writer and online content coordinator for Novo. She loves getting to know her neighbors from many nations, soul care, and her morning cup of coffee.


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