It's all pretty fascinating to me, but the part that really struck me was Glenn's comment that "you can't just contemplate it all generally." That applies to Christian contemplation and really all prayer, I think. Sometimes people talk about prayer in sweeping generalities. We want to contemplate vague spiritual truths. I find in my own life, however, that prayer takes me deeper and deeper into particularity. Contemplation is an invitation to find God in the details.
This is why I find poetry to be such a help in my prayer life and why I think that poets have so much to teach the Church, whether or not they consider themselves to be "religious." Poets, like astronauts, don't deal in vague generalities. They deal with what is. I think of that great line from Mary Oliver's poem, "The Summer Day" when she asks:
Who made the grasshopper?Prayer and contemplation are not about sweeping generalaties. They invite us to contemplate this grasshopper, this one right here.
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
the one who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down...
In the same way, Ash Wednesday does not invite us to ponder death in general, but our own wild and precious lives--these lives that we are living today. Or not living today as the case may be.
My prayer is that my contemplation in this Lenten season will not be general, but specific, and focused on the world around me: the ways that God is breaking in here and now in this time and this place, into the unique moment I find myself in that will never come in the same way again. My hope is that I will continue to learn to pray in ways that draw me into the specific joys and messes of this world, God's world: in Syria, in the lives of the people among whom I serve, in life and in death and all that unfolds in between.