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Monday, 07 September 2015 10:12

Entering the spiritual domain

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Fr-Michael-Gormly ssc 150A Buddhist monk in Korea once gave me a lesson I have not forgotten. I was invited to a Zen retreat at a hermitage in a remote valley. To get there I travelled by train and bus, then I hiked into the hills. The monk greeted me with the question: What has been the path that brings you here? Columban Father Michael Gormly reflects on the contemplative dimension of mission.

A Buddhist monk in Korea once gave me a lesson I have not forgotten. I was invited to a Zen retreat at a hermitage in a remote valley. To get there I travelled by train and bus, then I hiked into the hills. The monk greeted me with the question: What has been the path that brings you here? Without hesitation I spoke of the train, the bus and the hike.

Of course, I missed the profound points of his question: What has been the life journey that brings you to this place at this time? What are the spiritual perspectives you bring to creation, to life on this planet? What are your hopes for people and for the future? The question was about my contemplative stance.

This was a time to reflect and realise that mission is not just about going places, being busy and doing things. Mission ultimately relates to who I am, to what are my basic convictions, and to why I choose to live the way I do.

There are moments on mission when I need to pause to delve into how I relate to reality, to myself and to my God. I need to ponder how God’s missionary agenda is unfolding around me. I put the spotlight on myself, as one seeking intimacy with the living God.

My personal quest in mission is to engage with the mystery of God, to deliberately dispose myself for contemplative experiences. Radical spiritual attention is required if I am to bring my life into a sharp awareness of self before God. As I enter into the mystical realm I must empty self of all that is not of God.

The contemplative dimension of mission raises the question for all of us: Am I drawn to experiences of the living God?

(Photo from the website of the St columbans Mission Society in Australia)

Fr Michael Gormly ssc is a missionary priest who lives and works at St Columbans, Lower Hutt, New Zealand.

This article was first published in the Vol 8-No. 6 (Wednesday, 15 July 2015) issue of the St Columbans Mission Society (Columbans) Mission E-News.