I’m reading an amazing book for my graduate certificate program in Religion, Peace and Justice. Here’s great quote on a plumbline for the practice of contemplation.
“When pummeled by too many thoughts a long walk would cure me of the punch-drunk feeling of lifelessness. The normal route led along open fields, and not infrequently I would see a man walking his four Kerry blue terriers. These were amazing dogs. Bounding energy, elastic grace, and electric speed, they coursed and leapt through open fields. It was invigorating just to watch these muscular stretches of freedom race along. Three of the four dogs did this, I should say. The fourth stayed behind and, off to the side of its owner, ran in tight circles. I could never understand why it did this; it had all the room in the world to leap and bound. One day I was bold enough to ask the owner, “Why does your dog do that? Why does it run in little circles instead of running with the others?” He explained that before he acquired the dog, it had lived practically all its life in a cage and could only exercise by running in circles. For this dog, to run meant to run in tight circles. So instead of bounding through the open fields that surrounded it, it ran in circles. This event has always stayed with me as a powerful metaphor of the human condition. For indeed we are free, as the Psalmist insists, “My heart like a bird has escaped from the snare of the fowler” (Ps 123:7). But the memory of the cage remains. And so we run in tight, little circles, even while immersed in open fields of grace and freedom.”
Laird, Martin. Into the Silent Land.