Summary: WHAT ARE THEY - HOW DO YOU EXPERIENCE THEM?
The young couple were obviously very much in love.When they came to the Vicarage to ask if I`d marry them it shone out of their faces. On the night of the wedding rehearsal I took them step by step through all the things they would have to do and say - and one thing I always insisted upon was that, when the bride entered the Church and walked down the aisle with her father, the groom should turn and look at her - "just check that you`re getting married to the right woman", I said, and then, more seriously, "it`s not easy walking down the aisle like that at the centre of everyone`s attention. Smile at her - it`ll settle her, strengthen her and make her welcome". And so he DID. He did so with a vengeance.......... from the time she walked down that aisle and sand the first hymn, right to the end of the service - HE JUST COULDN`T TAKE HIS EYES OFF HER. It proved to be quite difficult to get him to say the promises, the way he kept on looking at her, but I wouldn`t have changed it for the world. Yes, he loved her so much that he just couldn`t take his eyes off her.
Now I wonder if you`ll humour me. Would you shut your eyes for a little while. Now (this`ll be hard for the men!), imagine that you`re that bride. You`re walking down the aisle on the your Father`s arm, towards the one you`re going to marry - and he`s looking at you. And as you see Him you see that He`s JESUS. Yes, He`s the GROOM, and you`re the BRIDE - and He`s LOOKING AT YOU. HE CAN`T TAKE HIS EYES OFF YOU. Just sit there now for a moment or two, look into His eyes, and let Him look into yours ......... .. THANK YOU - YOU CAN OPEN YOUR EYES NOW.
I thought of that young couple three weeks ago, when I was reading the "New Daylight Notes" for Sunday May 6th. It said, "Worship has been described as `all that we are, delighting in all that He is". I thought - Yes, THAT`S IT" - That`s what our worship is about, "All that we are, delighting in all that He is" - and then I thought "That`s what PRAYER is, "All that we are delighting in all that He is" - so you see it doesn`t have to be a lot of words (although words can help at times). Sometimes it is just me being with God and Him with me, looking at each other, loving each other, being together. That`s why I asked you to take part in that little action a few minutes ago - for if it was real for you (and I accept that it probably wasn`t real or meaningful for everyone), you were actually CONTEMPLATING GOD AND HOW MUCH HE LOVES YOU, AND SEEING THAT "HE CAN`T TAKE HIS EYES OFF YOU", AND THAT`S WHAT CONTEMPLATION IS!
What about Meditation? What`s the difference between Meditation and Contemplation? Here`s my second story, a strange one: One day when I was at Whatcombe House, I was leading a Meditation in the Chapel. We were pondering some verses from St. Mark`s Gospel about the death of Jesus and what it meant to us. As we thought about it in silence for a long time, some pictures began to enter my mind - I saw myself standing in front of the Cross with Jesus looking at me. I began to feel uncomfortable. Then He showed me a picture of myself, a picture of a very holy Eric, and He said, "What do you think of him, this Eric that you see?" "Why Lord, He`s fine isn`t he". Jesus said, "Not to me, he isn`t. He`s a pretence. He`s the Eric you hold up to the world, so that they will like you. But he`s not real at all".
Then, as I stood before Him He showed me a picture of Eric - a dark, stained, stunted Eric". It was horrible.- those parts of me that I have tried to hide from everyone. "What do you think of him, this Eric that you see?" said Jesus. "Lord! Take him away, I can`t stand him - he`s horrible" I said. "Not to me, he isn`t" said Jesus. "Yes, there are things about him that hurt me and put me here - but at least he`s real, not like that other cardboard cut out you hold up to the world. And I love him". I was astonished. Then in my mind I saw the hands of Jesus take those two Erics, the cardboard cut-out holy Eric, and the black, stunted, horrible Eric, and bring them together, like this, until they merged with each other. Then He said, "Now I`ve joined the two parts of you together - you have become AT-ONE with yourself - now you are real for the first time in your life".