December 24, 2021
Day 27: Communion and Connection
When I first thought about Contemplative Prayer (and meditation, and contemplative kinds of things), I thought it was a solitary practice. And, so it can be. However, as I have seen – and journaled about, in these past weeks – contemplation does not HAVE to be solitary. You can contemplative in connection with others. Others in your prayer group, or congregation, or a single prayer partner or spiritual director.
I’m returning to Richard Foster. (Thank you for ALL your marvelous writing, Richard!) Really and truly, I appreciate Foster so much for his keen insights, his depth of knowledge, and how readily accessible his writing style is.
In his book Streams of Living Water, Foster talks of a number of different streams of the Christian faith. Different faith traditions, that flow from the same Source: Jesus Christ. As he talks about the Incarnational Tradition, Foster describes how foundational the Sacraments are to those who follow at tradition (or, faith stream). Communion, then, is a significant way for fellow believers to join with, worship with, and be with each other. Plus, when followers of Christ are also contemplatives, they can find a whole other facet of their faith and life together in their sharing of the sacrament of communion.
Which brings us to connection. Yes, Foster does talk about the Contemplative Tradition in this book, too. Yes, there is a strength to be found in the disciplines of the spiritual life, and this is well and good. However, another peril of this tradition and practice is neglecting life in community. “The contemplative stress upon our solitariness before God – can lead us into, especially in Western cultures, into an individualism that think only in terms of “God and me.” 
No matter whether introvert or extrovert, shrinking violet or happy-go-lucky, we all as Christians are to have communion – both vertically and horizontally. We are to value connection – both vertically and horizontally. Both features of the contemplative experience are important, Even, two sides of the same contemplative coin. Thank you for the reminder, Richard, as I strive to experience the Contemplative way of living and being.
Thank you for taking a trip with me in this Advent season, as I have journaled through experiences with the Tree of Contemplative Practices. Thank you to the website contemplativemind.org for making this excellent graphic available, too! And, I have really appreciated the memories this contemplative trip has stirred up within me. I hope and pray you may be encouraged to try one or two or even several of these excellent practices.
God’s blessings be yours as we enter the Christmas season. May you and your loved ones have a safe, happy and healthy new year, too. Peace be with you.
Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.
(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )
 Foster, Richard J., Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith (HarperCollins: United States of America, 1998), 55-56