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.