I am presently working on a series of meditations that combine mindfulness with the Christian contemplative tradition. Here is the 'Contemplation to Give Love' which I hope you might enjoy exercising over the Easter period.
St Ignatius of Loyola ends his Spiritual Exercises with an ecstatic ‘Contemplation to Attain Love’. Here is a part of it:
I recall the gifts I have received, my creation, redemption and other gifts particular to myself , I will ponder with deep affection how much God our Lord has done for me, and how much he has given me...
I see how God dwells in all creatures, in the elements, giving them being, in the plants, in the animals – feeling in them, in humans giving them to understanding and so in me, giving me being, animating me, giving me feeling and understanding...
I will speak as one making an offering with deep affection: ‘Take, Lord, and receive, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and all my will – all that I have and possess... Give me only your love and your grace that is sufficient for me. (Exx 234 - 235)
In a similar spirit I usually end a retreat or set of exercises with a group with a ‘Contemplation to Give Love’. Here it is:
Again, take the usual time to prepare yourself for the exercise. Make yourself comfortable – feet on the ground, bottom on the seat/floor, back straight. As before spend some time with the breathing and body exercises we have already done. Now, as in a previous exercise move your awareness to the heart centre. As before notice the feeling there and invite Jesus to bring his healing touch there. Feel the warm hand of Christ on your heart giving you the love you need at this moment. When you are ready I now want you to transfer that love to those around you. It may be people in your house or the room or it may be a close friend or family member. Picture that person in your mind’s eye and give them the love and healing touch that you have received from Christ. Wish them all good things and that they will find the peace they are looking for. Now I want you to extend that love and warm energy to all your family and friends. Bring each of them in turn into your mind’s eye and transfer that love energy to them, wishing them all the best for their journey through life. Now I want you to give that love energy to all your work colleagues, to those who live near you and those you may have met today. Again, picture them before you – whether you actually like them or not – and transfer this loving-kindness to them. Pray that they may prosper and have a good and fulfilling life. If at this point you recall someone to whom you have difficulty transferring this love stay with them a while and if necessary ask Jesus to come and help you.
Now I want you to transfer this love energy to all in your city, town or region. Again contemplate all these people – some being born today, some dying, some ill and sick, some just married or newly engaged. Those in happiness, those in despair – equally alike transfer this loving-kindness to them, this heart-energy that they will find the peace they are looking for.
Now I want you to transfer this love across the world. In particular bring before your mind all those trouble-spots in the world that you hear about on the TV and radio. Bring those who are at war, who suffer in conflict, who have lost loved ones into your loving-kindness. Bring the leaders – religious and civic – into your concentration as you give your loving heart energy to them. Again, evoke the name of Jesus to be with them now in their hour of difficulty.
Now transfer the energy to all the animals and plants that surround you at this moment – the birds, insects, creatures and animals in your neighbourhood. Like St Ignatius thank God for their being and transfer to them all loving-kindness for their peace and contentment.
Finally, like the saint, transfer this love to all the created elements around you. Thank God for the mystery of this fragile planet and pass the loving-kindness to the greater mysteries of God’s love dwelling in all created elements.
Finish the exercise with a short prayer of thanksgiving before opening your eyes again.