12 January 2013

In our modern world, it is much too easy to overextend our limits toward activity and productivity. Stillness, solitude and silence are not valued today like they may have been for our ancestors whose days were filled with these qualities simply by the nature of their life’s labor and limitations. We tend to see restrictions to activity and engagement as something to be avoided. But limitations and restrictions can be a grace for us. Within the context of our limitations, God can do for us what we cannot. The caterpillar can’t make herself become the butterfly—that kind of change requires confinement, solitude, stillness and receptivity to something bigger than herself. This is how transformation is made possible. Remember, we cannot make ourselves grow; but we can choose to submit to or resist the process. And though much growth takes place in our active lives, all elements of creation are subject to contemplative stillness as an integral part of growth and transformation. Consider the butterfly. She does not become the magnificent colorful creature by a fury of activity. She submits to the confinement of the chrysalis—tomb-like, womblike. She is still. She rests. She receives. She submits to a work more glorious than she could have ever conjured up for herself.

Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life, Ch 5 p. 87