The Contemplative Quest

Paulo Coelho

Linda Sabbath took her three sons and decided to go and live on a small farm in the interior of Canada, where she wanted to dedicate herself completely to spiritual contemplation.

In less than a year she fell in love, got married again, studied the saints’ techniques of meditation, fought for a school for her children, made friends, made enemies, neglected her teeth, got herself an abscess, hitchhiked in snowstorms, learned to fix the car, thaw out frozen pipes, made her alimony stretch out at month’s end, survived on unemployment money, slept without indoor heating, laughed for no reason, cried with despair, built a chapel, made repairs to the house, painted walls, and gave courses on spiritual contemplation.

“And I eventually realized that a life of prayer does not mean isolation,” she says. “Love is so big it has to be shared.

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Comments

  1. Sue Fairweather says:

    I would like to tell you of a Community I visit often called Othona…In England on the an eastern point of the Essex coast and later a second far south in Dorset…the beauty of isolation but with a visiting worldwide community of 600 families for 3 days to 3 weeks. The founder in 1946 brought servicemen and their families,internees and refugees of all faiths or none to this remote corner of the country ,under canvas,to experience work,worship,study and play communally…we take our share in all tasks and endeavours.

    The conditions were very basic for many years (and we still welcome simplicity) but there is beauty in even learning how to ‘deal with human waste’…the Chapel we use is single ‘roomed’ of absolute tranquility…the oldest standing Celtic Chapel in the country,St.Peters on the Wall.

    Why do I post this? In this place I have the opportunity to experience,along with others,to be separate from the busy,complicated life of home in a place where there is…

    ‘a thin space between Heaven and Earth’

    …with love,Sue

  2. Marie-Christine says:

    that’s what I h ave done! looking straight into your eyes.
    Love and light to all.

  3. Savita Vega says:

    This makes me laugh, as I can certainly relate to Linda's experience. Three years ago, I moved back to the small rural community where I grew up, think that here I would at least find the peace and calm for which I had been yearning. What I got was anything but! I have never had so many lives integrally dependent upon me, nor been so busy in all my life. I have never had so many things pressing in upon me, demanding to be done – as in Linda's story, when a water pipe breaks, you have no choice but to go out and fix it, even in the dead of night, even in chill of winter. And it isn't like in the city. You don't just ring up the plumber on his 24-hour service line. Often times, there is no one to call. If the back yard catches on fire when you are burning leaves, you grab the water hose. If you wait for the fire department to arrive, the whole county will be on fire. When an animal gets sick, there is no 24-hour vets office to call – you just sit up with the animal and do the best that you can with what you have until dawn comes.

    “Peace” there is not. Quiet, seldom. But contemplation, meditation -there is plenty of space for that. I think that anything that we do repeatedly, and which requires effort and the development of skill, is an opportunity for meditation. Here, my teachers are many: my axe and my machete, which I use for chopping trails, cleaning fence rows, etc,; my dogs, which teach me many things, not the least of which are patience, forgiveness and love; the elements, with which I maintain an ever-respectful love-hate relationship; the tornadoes and hurricanes, which teach me not only how to brace myself and when to let go of things, but also how to rebuild; the birds that daily come to the feeder outside my kitchen window, who teach me that even a little love can go a long long way…. The list goes on and on.

    I thought I would come here to sit and be quiet and still. Instead, I found a treasure-house in the pleasure of doing what absolutely must be done, many spiritual lessons in performing simple acts of dire necessity.

  4. Neglecting her teeth and abscesses?? Ew…..

    1. Monica says:

      it’s easy to jump and right away notice the negative and ignore the many positive attributes.

    2. I’m a Registered Dental Hygienist Monica, you missed the humor in it because a) you most probably don’t know that I am an RDH, and b) well, this is the drawback of writing something online and hearing and seeing them face to face when they make a statement.

  5. THELMA says:

    I think that the most difficult lesson to be learnt is through sharing and living with other … Souls. In isolation and meditation we only concentrate in .. ourselves ….
    Taking into account the fact that we are … ‘social animals’, as it is sometimes called, then for me the most important Path is the Journey inside society and learning the lesson of LOVE by expanding our awareness and senses and thus, by … sharing the treasures of our Soul.
    LOVE,
    Thelma.

  6. austere says:

    Amazing.

    And Savita- thank you.

  7. nagualero says:

    i can relate to that… :-)

  8. orly says:

    they say in my country when u change a place – u change ur luck- and for sure we like to share- thats the all idea in our universe- giving – taking – together- its an anamazing balance.
    orly

  9. Mari Ann says:

    To me prayer is something very personal and it goes on inside my head and heart. The fruits of prayers are wonderful things happening. The wonderful things that happen turn into stories that I can share with others. A few days ago I was sitting around a table with a family who might loose a husband and a father any day. I told them different stories about wonderful things that have happened – without giving any false hope. And I also told them stories from my long and winding spiritual road. These stories seem to help them through a very difficult phase of life. A little later I was told that one adult son had told his sister that he could have spent several days listening to my stories. When I was told this I felt that I am doing something that really matters just by sharing my experiences. To me just talking or writing about my experiences seems to be the most natural way to share spirituality. At least for the time being.
    (By the way – are you sure that Linda didn’t go to a dentist you don’t know about? I believe her teeth might be in perfect condition. Maybe not bleached yet, but maybe by the end of the week….)

  10. Breda says:

    It reminds me of myself -at times too busy for contemplative life-external chores distracting me and inner thoughts taking my peace of mind.Thankfully at times I experience contemplative moments : ) I look at my meditating budda ,sitting calm , cool and collected on my garden window-I light an incence for him-sit and look at him and take away a bit of his calmness for my day.
    Sometimes I attempt to have Budda moments-when I am peeling potatoes ,or doing a wash-ups!!
    Love
    Breda

  11. B*Sofie says:

    To share our love & our stories -
    I know is a calling for all of us

    Even in the midst of my busy everydaylife –
    singel “supermom” with several jobs…
    my soul is prepearing for something -
    I don`t know yet

    I am awaiting the time & way*

    If we dedicate our life with all its victories & failiures
    and immerce ourself into Gods mercy –
    I guess our life becomes a prayer

    On days like today –
    feeling like a small child in need for a hug -
    I`m happy to share my thoughts with you…all

    Much love*

  12. Belén says:

    Depende del momento que uno esté a pasar. en esta etapa de mi vida prefiero refugiarme en mi misma y quererme a mi. querer a los demás está bien pero quererse uno mismo es más difícil. pienso que en este momento la contemplación y el refugio interior me viene muy bien y la oración que yo entiendo como hablar directamente con Dios, me está ayudando mucho. en otros momentos, los dedicaré a compartir con los demás. pero también pienso que siempre me dediqué mucho a los demás y que mucha gente se aprovechó de mi facilidad para dar.y como aún estoy en una etapa de desconfianza en la amistad y en los otros, prefiero refugiarme en mi misma y como no, en mi familia.

    ya llegará el momento de compartir mi amor con otros, que por ahora se reduce a este contacto a través de las letras.
    un beso enorme a todos

  13. Irina Black says:

    Admiration.To live every moment as the last one and as never been “tasted” before means to be in a constant prayer.

  14. Heart says:

    A call to contemplative life, i.e. as a Carmelite, means to dedicate your time to the ‘Divine Office’… prayers morning, noon and night plus, plus often combined with practical work of making alter bread, sowing clothes or gardening. The love for other’s is shared in a different way than directly interacting in human relations. This is meaningful if one believes in prayers.

  15. Alexandra says:

    In poor words , she lived life at the full.I loved that story,that lady just remembered myself.I just cant slow down,or at least only for very short periods.Than I have to do many things of a wide range .I love people, I think I would not search isolation.Breaks are welcome, but life must be lived.

  16. Marie-Christine says:

    :0 :)

  17. Savita Vega says:

    This makes me laugh, as I can certainly relate to Linda’s experience. Three years ago, I moved back to the small rural community where I grew up, think that here I would at least find the peace and calm for which I had been yearning. What I got was anything but! I have never had so many lives integrally dependent upon me, nor been so busy in all my life. I have never had so many things pressing in upon me, demanding to be done – as in Linda’s story, when a water pipe breaks, you have no choice but to go out and fix it, even in the dead of night, even in chill of winter. And it isn’t like in the city. You don’t just ring up the plumber on his 24-hour service line. Often times, there is no one to call. If the back yard catches on fire when you are burning leaves, you grab the water hose. If you wait for the fire department to arrive, the whole county will be on fire. When an animal gets sick, there is no 24-hour vets office to call – you just sit up with the animal and do the best that you can with what you have until dawn comes.

    “Peace” there is not. Quiet, seldom. But contemplation, meditation -there is plenty of space for that. I think that anything that we do repeatedly, and which requires effort and the development of skill, is an opportunity for meditation. Here, my teachers are many: my axe and my machete, which I use for chopping trails, cleaning fence rows, etc,; my dogs, which teach me many things, not the least of which are patience, forgiveness and love; the elements, with which I maintain an ever-respectful love-hate relationship; the tornadoes and hurricanes, which teach me not only how to brace myself and when to let go of things, but also how to rebuild; the birds that daily come to the feeder outside my kitchen window, who teach me that even a little love can go a long long way…. The list goes on and on.

    I thought I would come here to sit and be quiet and still. Instead, I found a treasure-house in the pleasure of doing what absolutely must be done, many spiritual lessons in performing simple acts of dire necessity.

  18. karen says:

    So many of us do this – it is the primordial pattern of the human spirit, the search for something which was inside us all the time – Santiago’s journey to the Pyramids.
    The journey in itself is redemptive, we come to know life, and ourselves.
    And we find our treasure.
    LOVE.
    Blessings everyone
    Karen xxxxxxxxxxxx

  19. aditya says:

    ““Love is so big it has to be shared”

    perhaps the same conclusion as recahed by Buddha or Mahavira or Krishna, or Zesus or Mohammad ?

    the mode of that sharing may differ but the urge remains !!

    love
    aditya