Contemplative Activism is a simple idea. An idea rooted in the belief that Jesus calls us to live in him. ‘Abide in me’, is the divine invitation to spend intentional time with Jesus. To make the point of living in the now moment. Jesus, in John 15 speaks of the vine, of being grafted in and an organic joining of being. I recollect my grandfathers, often failed attempts, at grafting new strains of peach onto his beloved peach tree. The surgical incision, the well trimmed branch, the careful insertion of the branch onto the main trunk of the tree and the binding of that grafted branch into position in the main tree. The sap from the principle tree would join to the open wood of the grafted branch and if the grafting took, would feed the new branch and in time the new branch would become one with the tree and eventually bear its unique fruit.
What is important to retain in this image is that the grafted branch does not change its DNA or its uniqueness, it merely draws its life from the mother tree and in doing so continues to live and bear fruit. The branch does not strive to fulfill its purpose, it is totally reliant on the mother tree to give of its goodness, allowing the new branch to survive and thrive.
I believe Contemplative Activism is born from the same dynamic. We abide in Christ, we are fed by Gods life giving Spirit. As we give ourselves to be grafted into the life of Christ, who is the True Vine, we know that we will bear good fruit. Our activity, so to speak, will flow organically from a place of Gods creative nature and dynamic activity in life and the world.
Many can see this as folly, passivity, or an abdication of responsibility for the world around us. This is especially true of social activists, who can often fall into the trap of thinking that their pursuit of justice and social transformation is only legitimate when they are fighting the good fight, expending all their energy in being busy (for the right reasons of course) and reshaping the world in the image of Gods justice. This identity can so easily become a false identity. For all the right intentions, the social activist can take on the strategies of the world, to change the world and in doing so, is changed into the likeness of the world.
Jesus is clear, Abide in me, be intentional with me, focus on me. I am the true Vine, make sure you are a part of me first, before anything else. For the activist this intentional step away from the distractions of changing the world and focusing on dwelling in the true vine, causes the life giving, explosive creative energy of the Spirit to work itself through our lives and into all we touch. I often think of this as taking a swim in a river. I am in the water, I am staying afloat through prayer, the current of Gods Spirit is taking me towards my destination. I am in motion, I am in the powerful flow of the water, yet I am doing very little apart from allowing the water to do its work.
This is the heart of Contemplative Activism.