While on an extended stay at our farm in West Virginia, one of my practices is to read the Book of Hours by Thomas Merton.
Here is a part of the readings for Monday dawn. I guess that I have read it a dozen times, but it still freshly resonates with me:
When I speak of the contemplative life I do not mean the institutional cloistered life, the organized life of prayer. I am talking about a special dimension of inner discipline and experience, a certain integrity and fullness of personal development, which are not compatible with a purely external, alienated, busy-busy existence. This does not mean that they are incompatible with action, with creative work, with dedicated love. On the contrary, these all go together. A certain depth of disciplined experience is a necessary ground for fruitful action. Without a more profound human understanding derived from exploration of the inner ground of human existence, love will tend to be superficial and deceptive. Traditionally, ideas of prayer, meditation, and contemplation have been associated with this deepening of one’s personal life and this expansion of the capacity to understand and serve others.
And being here, where we are off grid and without easy internet and cell phone coverage, simply reinforces the notion, for me, of leading a contemplative life.