No Different than a bottle of wine...
Contemplatives (like me) are people who find a great deal of joy in being alone with God. Solitude, silence, and the prayers that unfold in those contexts have a sweet way of nurturing our souls. But it's easy to hide behind this pious looking posture. Our love a contemplation may be nothing more than an addiction to the more comforting parts of life with Christ, and an avoidance of the hard work of truth telling, the messiness of relationships, and sacrifice of service. Thomas Merton speaks of this very accurately when he writes:
Sometimes contemplatives think that the whole end and essence of their life is to be found in recollection and interior peace and the sense of the presence of God. They become attached to these things. But recollection is just as much a creature as an automobile. The sense of interior peace is no less created than a bottle of wine. The experimental 'awareness' of the presence of God is just as truly a created thing as a glass of beer. The only difference is that recollection and interior peace and the sense of the presence of God are spiritual pleasures and the others are material. Attachment to spiritual things is therefore just as much an attachment as inordinate love of anything else. The imperfection may be more hidden and more subtle: but from a certain point of view that only makes it all the more harmful because it is not so easy to recognize.
God help us to realize that the point of meeting with Him is so that we can go out into the world and offer the gifts He's given us, freely giving because we've freely received. These are notions I'll be discussing in a book that I've written, due out in July. We need to allow our relationship with God to take us places where we don't want to go. For some of us the challenge will be in getting our hands dirty. For others, the challenge lies in sitting still, at the feet of Jesus, and receiving His healing, nurturing touch.