On reflecting on my previous blog Seeing God Face to Face, I realized that there was a dimension missing, the intimate experience of meeting God’s face within ourselves. Meditation is teaching me to approach the indwelling Spirit of God with attention and listening. The apophatic (no images) tradition of meditation teaches us not to use imagery to approach God but to do so with a prayer word or mantra. The mantra recommended by John Main, Maranatha, an Aramaic word meaning May the Lord Come, has no imagery associated with it for most people. Meister Eckhart taught that God is beyond not only our knowing but also our seeing and our hearing. Even as we listen to the mantra echoing within our heart, as John Main taught, it leads us to a state of being, not seeing, hearing or knowing. We are connecting with God who is the ground of our being. This state of being is the state of contemplation and is more akin to waiting attentively than seeing, knowing or hearing. The difference is the latter may be attempts at grasping or possessing, which God utterly eludes.
Walter Bruggeman in his wonderful Old Testament Theology (Fortress Press, 1997, p.402) points out that both the Old Testament (for Jews) and the New Testament (for Christians) end in a state of waiting. The prayer, May the Lord come, ends the NT (Revelation 22:20). The expectation of the return of Elijah ends the Old Testament (Malachi 4:5). “The waiting is inescapable because of the unresolved condition of life in the world, an unresolve shared by Christians with Jews and all others” (Bruggeman, p.403).
Meditation is helpful for a sense of grounding and for waiting attentively in this “in-between time”. The ego likes to wriggle out of too much attention or focus, coming face to face with truth, with what is. The ego will at all costs try to avoid looking too closely into “the face” of God. It is very much as Paul describes it, “looking in a mirror darkly”. The soul is like a mirror: all my devices and desires darken the light reflected there, but they do not stop the process from God’s side. Meditation and contemplation are more about what God does rather than what I do. I live in the hope of one day reflecting much more of that glorious light. I wait attentively with the hope of Easter in my heart.