Contemplative Prayer- In the Company of Elijah (July 2011)

Approaching the Shabbos on which we read Parshas Pinchas, my thoughts turn again this year to the Haftarah which tells the story of Elijah’s encounter with the “still small voice.”   Moses passes on his leadership to Joshua, and Elijah passes something of his spirit (a double portion perhaps) to Elisha and to those who continue his contemplative mission. 
In 2007, I wrote  at length about the Cave of Elijah (see HERE), but this year I would just like to post a very short and simple  reflection  relating Haftaras  Pinchas to some aspects of contemplative prayer. The scripture references in this commentary do not indicate direct quotes, they merely indicate the places where the related scriptural texts used in the reflection may be found.


All those who would hear the “still small voice”
Are pursued by their own Queen Jezebel:
The rage of their defeated idols.
They are hunted by the anxiety of fear before formidable enemies,
Just as Elijah was hunted. (I Kings 19:2)

All those who would find the entrance to the Cave of the Heart on Sinai,
Must first endure the exhausted sleep of those who wrestle with spiritual opponents
Before any angel will bring them sustaining bread or restorative rest.
Just as Elijah slept. (I Kings 19:5,7)

All those who struggle on hearing the Divine question:
“What are you doing here?”
Will blather and bluster in self-focus before submitting to the truth of Truth Himself.
Just as Elijah did. (I Kings 19:10)

We are commanded to stand up for ourselves and fight the “Midianites” who harass us.(Numbers 25:17)
Our weapons in that battle are intellect and determination, faith and trust:
For the enemies who block our path are fear and doubt.
But they are truly not enemies at all-
They too are angels-
Their message is that Fire announces His Path (Psalm 97:3)
And simultaneously,
Fire from Heaven goes before us when we trust in our Heavenly Leader.


The cloud and darkness which surround Him (Psalm 97:2)
Are like the earthquake, wind and fire which announced the Divine Voice. (I Kings 19:12)

What seems to be a lack of response to our searching and petition
What seems to be a battle fought alone in confusion or exhaustion
What seems to be hiding the Divine Presence from our sight

Is actually

-a necessary preparation for a forthcoming revelation
-the prelude to seeing that we had Divine help all along
-a clearing of the path before us, without which our ascent would not be possible.

And what seems to be destructive or obscured
Is then seen in its true light
As simply concealment for our protection, education, and deliverance from our apparent enemies.

Light is sown for the righteous (Psalm 97:11)
But we sometimes need to enter the total darkness of a cave to see it.

N R Davies
July 10 2011