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Take a P this Week, Jack says

From Jack Levison, on the need for contemplation:

“Take a P this week,” I tell my students. (They humor me, laughing.)

P = Plan. If you don’t plan to pray, meditate, contemplate, you probably won’t. Write it in your schedule, the way you would a committee meeting, a coffee date, an essay due. If you don’t plan it, you won’t get to the joy of contemplation.

P = Place. Sometimes we don’t slip away to meditate because we have no inviting place to slip away to. So I’ve asked my students to create a space for contemplation. Yesterday, we showed before and after photos to illustrate how to create a sacred space. One student took a storage closet in a dorm, ironing board and all, organized it, and set a pillow, blanket and plastic candle (I’d given each student a plastic candle and journal) in it. Another simply cleared a desk, placing his candle there with a straight line of pebbles—like God in the Bible’s opening lines, creating order out of chaos. Sometimes creating space may mean simply tucking one of those plastic candles in a pocket or drawer and pulling it out for ten minutes in a quiet spot. It’s hard to imagine that $1.50 worth of plastic candle can transform no space into sacred space.

P = Practice. Think of spiritual practices as a tool box for contemplation. Each week in class we are learning new ones. The labyrinth. Lectio divina (reading the Bible slowly three times—but more on that another time). One on-line tool—an incredibly beneficial one—called Pray-as-you-go, is a gift to us from British Jesuits. Every day, you can escape to this place, this practice of stillness for about twelve minutes.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


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