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Contemplation can simply be you resting in God’s embrace

      I was recently asked by an adult male for the definition of contemplation. He said he had read some books on the subject, but found the whole thing puzzling. He added that when he finally gave it a go, he didn’t know if he was worshipping God or himself. So I took him down a different path.

      “Imagine,” I said to this man, “that your wife is holding you in her arms. Your head rests upon her breasts.

      Your arms are around her.”

      “Okay,” he replied.

      “Now,” I said to the man, “what are you thinking about?”

      The man shrugged and said, “Probably nothing in particular. But who knows?”

      “But that doesn’t preclude any conversation between you two, does it?” I asked.

      “No,” he said.

      “But,” I continued, “any conversation you have will most likely be in soft voices, perhaps whispers.”

      “Probably,” he said.

      “Why?” I prodded.

      Again he shrugged. “Well, for one thing, we’re so close together that a normal voice isn’t necessary,” he said.

      “And another reason?” I asked.

      “Well, this situation is a husband/wife thing. Kinda a familiar situation, you know?” he replied.

      “Since this is an intimate situation,” I continued, “is it possible that your wife might place her hand gently atop your head and rub softly.”

      “Possible,” he said.

      “And you, might you not bury your head even deeper into her bosom as she does this?” I queried.

      “I might,” said the man, “I just might.”

      “Now,” I said, “in all this, could you describe yourself as being at rest? That all this brings about a sense of peace, contentment?” I asked.

      “You could say that,” he agreed.

      “Now,” I continued, “have you ever held your wife in your arms in a similar fashion?”

      “Yes,” he said.

      “Did it feel good?” I asked.

      “Yes,” he agreed.

      “Comfortable?” I asked.

      “Yes,” he replied.

      “Kiss her hair, did you?” I suggested

      The man nodded and said, “Sometimes.”

      “Did her hair smell good?” I continued

      “It always does,” the man replied.

      “But especially in this case?” I suggested.

      “Well, her head is on my chest, and my cheek is atop her head. So, yeah,” he replied.

      “Would you describe all this as something sensuous?” I pondered

      At that, the man raised up a bit and he cocked his head to one side. He frowned.

      “I’m not talking erotic,” I said quickly to allay his pique. “I mean, this whole scene is sensuous in the sense that touch and smell and taste are being employed. And all this is with your wife; someone with whom you are intimate.”

      The man relaxed and said, “Okay.”

      I looked at him and considered what I wanted to say next, but his consternation at my suggesting that all this might be sensuous made me hesitate. The result was a long pause.

      “What?” he asked, a tinge of impatience in his voice.

      “Is it possible,” I asked, “that a kiss might ensue?”

      He didn’t hesitate in replying “Yes.”

      “And how long might all this last?” I nudged.

      “This kiss?” he asked.”

      “No, the whole scenario I’ve painted for you,” I clarified. “How much time might elapse?”

      “Depends,” the man answered.

      “On what?” I queried.

      “The situation. If this scenario takes place, say, after I come home from work, it all may be just a minute or two, if that. If, though, this is part of a serious family situation, it might be much longer,” he explained.

      “Okay, what if there is no serious situation. And what if this doesn’t take place when you arrive home from work. Instead, it all goes down right before you go to bed,” I suggested.

      Without missing a beat, he replied, “It could go on for a much longer time.”

      “And since this is not a serious family situation nor your wife giving comfort upon your arrival home from work, but rather a quiet, soft, intimate time together, would not the ambience be relaxed? Something you would want to savor again and again?” I asked.

      “It would,” he agreed.

      We paused. He looked at me, nodding his head while sticking out his lower lip.

      Contemplation is neither a technique nor a method of relaxation. Rather, contemplation is simply you resting with God for no other reason than to rest in him. Think of the Apostle John resting upon Jesus (John 13:23-25).

      Or perhaps you with your spouse.


      Deacon Mark Plaiss teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Ill. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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