Monastic Reflection

Contributor: Greg Richardson
Photographer: Madison Cline
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What is so important about reflecting? What good does it really do us to be reflective? Isn’t reflection boring?

We are accustomed to being instantly analytical. Given a problem, we figure out an answer. We may be comfortable being emotional. Situations or relationships bring our strong feelings to the surface immediately.

Why do we need to reflect?

Reflection allows us to go longer and deeper. Reflecting is about the themes and values behind or underneath what we do and who we are.

Spending time in reflection is not about mastering what we find. It is more about recognizing how the underlying reasons of our lives master us.

I learned much more about thinking than about reflection as a child. Whether in school, at church, or even at home, life was about figuring out the right answer. Learning about reflection has taken me more time and effort later in my life.

Reflecting, like listening, is something we practice. We begin reflecting before we really know what reflection is, how it works. As we spend time reflecting, we begin to understand.

As we begin, reflection can feel like we are not really doing anything. Like listening, it can appear, even to us, we are being passive. Reflection is like listening, though we are listening to something deeper than words.

As we start small, practicing short periods of reflection, it expands within us. Reflection reveals us to ourselves.

There is time for reflection built into each monastic day. As they practice reflection, monks come to see its importance. Reflection draws us below the surface, deeper than our initial responses. Gradually, over time, practicing reflection allows us to see our truer, deeper selves more clearly.

When will we spend time practicing reflection today?

What will reflection reveal to us this week?