Contemplation: Resting in God

“We carry within us the wonders we seek without us.” - Sir Thomas Brown (1643), Religio Medici, §15

The basic tenet in Contemplative Prayer is that God is already present within us – the divine indwelling. Given such an extraordinary grace, one way to respond is simply to “Rest in God.” As scripture tells us:

Psalm 62:5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him.
Psalm 62:1-2 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
1 John 3:19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence.
John 15:4 Abide in me and I in you.

From St. Anselm: Insignificant man, escape from your everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts. Break off from your cares and troubles and be less concerned about your tasks and labors. Make a little time for God and rest a while in him. (Proslogion, Cap.1: Opera Omnia, Edit. Schmitt, Secovii, 1938, 1, 97-100) Desire for the vision of God).

So what does it mean to “Rest in God?”

Perhaps we can get some insight into this prayer form by examining the process and experience when we can fully rest in music or nature. Reflect on when you have been thoroughly immersed in listening to some beautiful music or in beholding a truly magnificent scene in nature. Where is your body when this happens? Where is your mind? Where are you? You really don’t know because you have become one with the music or the scenery.

TS Eliot says it all so beautifully:

For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. (Four Quartets, The Dry Salvages, #200, p.44).

For us to rest in God we need to let go all of that which makes us focus on ourselves and simply trust in God’s love for us. His grace is is already there for us. All we need to do is let go and receive – to rest in Him.

In closing, Thomas Merton reminds us:

Prayer is not reasoning, it is intuitive, relaxed, letting go, and collapsing into God. (Hidden in the Same Mystery: Thomas Merton and Loretto, 39)

The Christ we seek is within us,
In our inmost self,
Is our inmost self,
And yet infinitely transcends ourselves.
(Letter to Daisetz Suzuki, Thomas Merton: A life in Letters 361)