For many of us when we hear the word ‘contemplative’ we think of a monk, sitting for hours, eyes closed, hands folded, lost to the world around. Of course, such a monk is indeed a contemplative. But the idea of being contemplative is much bigger.
Contemplate is a two part word, compounded from the Latin ‘con’ (meaning ‘with’) and ‘templum’ (meaning ‘temple’), thus to observe things from a special place, and especially to observe in the presence of a deity. So a contemplative is one who looks at life in the presence of God, or we might say with the eyes of God, or though the eyes of Christ – at any time, not just special times; anywhere, not just in certain places; toward anyone, not just “special” people.
Adapted from The Attentive Life: Discerning God’s Presence In All Things (2008, InterVarsity Press)