The Invitation of Contemplation

Early one December, I slipped out of the office early on a Friday, hoping to miss the worst of the northward commute. After winding, in the rain, through the range of hills that set apart the Anderson Valley in Mendocino, I came to the modest collection of buildings that is the Wellspring Renewal Center. After checking in and enjoying one of Wellspring's hearty vegetarian dinners, I settled into the ranch house living room with the dozen or so others drawn to this place at this time. Retreat leader Rich Byrne gently invited us into an initial stillness. He looked with a hint of a smile and said:

  "It's cold. 

  "It's dark. 

  "It's wet.

[Long pause ...]

  "Isn't it wonderful!!!"

And indeed it was. The damp, fecund, and chill darkness was the perfect setting in which to set aside the commercial craziness that has become the substitute for Christmas and all the anxiety and distractions and just be present.

 Rich quoted a great spiritual master, William McNamara, to invite us into a time of contemplative sitting, being, and listening, because "contemplative prayer is simply a long, loving, look at the Real."

What a way to "get real." What a gift, which is one of many that the Pacific Center offers to those of us yearning for God and caught in the endless busyness of Bay Area life and work.

Cold, wet, dark: wonderful, lovely indeed.

Article written by Rod Dugliss