Present-with, Present-for:

Meditation and the letting-be of love


The fruits of our practice manifest in every aspect of how we live our life, and supremely in our relationships.

It is vital that we understand this and don’t imagine that the “spiritual life” and “spirituality” (however we understand those terms) are somehow separate from the fulness of ordinary life, lived together.

All that we have, all that we are, is born in and from relationship.

There are many ways that our silent practice helps us in our relationships with others. One important way is that in learning to be present with God without wanting to do anything or receive anything, we learn to be simply present-with and present-for those around us.

It is very understandable that we want to help those around us, to alleviate their suffering. There is so much that needs to be done.

But sometimes our strong desire to make a difference, to be of use, can hinder this. Our own ideas and plans can cloud our minds and make us less capable of listening. We can miss what others might really need from us.

In meditation, Christ guides us into the quiet spaciousness of God’s love, so we can become ourselves. As we become ourselves, we increasingly share the love we have received by allowing space for others to be themselves. We allow God to love through us. We become places where the Kingdom happens.

The Dominican, Herbert McCabe, wrote wonderfully about the spacious letting-be of love:

“What you give someone when you give them love is the gift of yourself. And what does that mean? It means you give them space. You give them a place where they can be themselves. To give someone love is to give her herself, to give him himself, to let him be.

What gives us elbow room, what gives us space to grow and become ourselves, is the love that comes to us from another. Love is a space in which to expand, and it is always a gift. In this sense we receive ourselves from the hands of others.

Of course, this is true in innumerable ways — we have to be born of others, for a start — but our growth, our personal development, also takes place in the space that others provide by their love. It is a space we cannot just take for granted but which, in another sense, we can only take for granted to us by someone who loves us.

To give love is to give the precious space of nothing, space. To give love is to let be.

The power of God is pre-eminently the power to let things be.”[1]

In meditation we learn to be present with God without wanting to receive anything or do anything. We learn to be present with those around us in simple solidarity, however their life is for them at that moment.

Love is the ground and purpose of our practice.

There is no beginning and no end outside of this.

[1] God Matters, p.108, Bloomsbury Publishing.

School of Contemplative Life
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