Contemplation (the prayer beyond words and ideas) is a way to describe what Jesus did in the desert. It is not learning as much as it is unlearning. It is not explaining as much as containing and
receiving everything, and holding onto nothing. It is refusing to judge too quickly and refining your own thoughts and feelings by calm observation and
awareness over time—in the light of the Big Picture.
You cannot understand anything well once you have approved or disapproved of it. There is too much of you invested there. Contemplation is loosening our attachment to ourselves so that Reality can get at us, especially the Absolute Reality that we call God.
Contemplation is the most radical form of
self-abandonment that I can imagine. It is most difficult if there is not a profound trust that there is Someone to whom I can be abandoned! Such
self-forgetfulness paradoxically leads one to a firm and somewhat fearless sense of responsibility. Now I can risk responsibility precisely because I know “the buck does not stop here.” There is a co-creation going on, a life-giving synergism that is found somewhere between surrender and personal
responsibility—God fully “co-operating with those who love God” (Romans 8:28), and we slowly learning to “second the motion.”