As a Christian, wide open to His penetrating Spirit, I can and should find all things in God and God in all things. Things — the gas-stove and the typewriter, the tube and the bus, streets and shops and all they contain. For every created substance is indwelt by the Supernatural Presence and is intended to express His thought and be maintained in His love and woven into the sacramental garment of His Holiness who despises nothing He has made.
I remind people that there is no Islamic, Christian, or Jewish way of breathing. There is no rich or poor way of breathing. The playing field is utterly leveled. The air of the earth is one and the same air, and this divine wind “blows where it will” (John 3:8) — which appears to be everywhere. No one and no religion can control this spirit.
When considered in this way, God is suddenly as available and accessible as the very thing we all do constantly — breathe. Exactly as some teachers of prayer always said, “Stay with the breath, attend to your breath”: the same breath that was breathed into Adam’s nostrils by this Yahweh (Genesis 2:7); the very breath that Jesus handed over with trust on the cross (John 19:30) and then breathed on us as shalom, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit all at once (John 20:21-23). And isn’t it wonderful that breath, wind, spirit and air are precisely nothing — and yet everything?
Every January, lots of folks make New Year’s Resolutions. This year I will lose weight, exercise more, improve my diet, pay off my credit cards. Sadly, though, it seems that by Valentine’s Day (if not before) most New Year’s Resolutions are long forgotten. New Year’s Resolutions point to two basic truths about being human. First, to […]
One of my favorite writers, Father Martin Laird, videotaped speaking at the “Festival of Faiths” conference in Louisville, KY in 2013. Martin Laird is the author of Into the Silent Land and A Sunlit Absence, two wonderful books on the practice of Christian contemplation.
If you truly practice mindfulness, it will never cause harm. If the practice doesn’t bring about more compassion, then it’s not right mindfulness. If you feel that your dreams aren’t coming true, you might think that you need to do more, or to think and strategize more. In fact, what you might need is less — less noise coming to you from both inside and outside — so that you have the space for your heart’s truest intention to germinate and flourish.
If you want to learn a grounded, contemplative reading of the Bible, The Elusive Presence is an excellent guide. First published in 1978, it methodically details how the sacred scripture of both Judaism and Christianity document a succession of encounters with God’s elusive presence — the “God who hides” of Isaiah 45:15. From the call of Abraham in Genesis to the Eucharistic encounter with Christ in the New Testament, Terrien unpacks every biblical moment of Divine Encounter. As he notes, “It is the distinctiveness of the Hebraic theology of presence rather than the ideology of the covenant which provides a key to understanding the Bible.” In other words, the Bible is a love letter, not a legal code — and Terrien brings that essential fact gloriously to life.
The third in a series of videos featuring Tilden Edwards, founder of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation; Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation; and Carole Crumley, Senior Program Director for Shalem, filmed on the occasion of Shalem’s 40th anniversary. In this video the participants reflect on their hopes for Shalem in the future — and, by extension, their hopes for the future of Christian contemplative spirituality in general.
To love in this way is to become like God. As a drop of water seems to disappear completely in a quantity of wine, taking the wine’s flavor and color; as red-hot iron becomes indistinguishable from the glow of fire and its own original form disappears; as air suffused with the light of the sun seems transformed into the brightness of the light, as if it were itself light rather than merely lit up; so, in those who are holy, it is necessary for human affection to dissolve in some ineffable way, and be poured into the will of God.
Lots of souls enter the spiritual life as a child enters a grocer’s shop, simply to ask for a pennyworth of sweets. All the riches and mysteries, the infinitely various gifts and opportunities of the supernatural world are before us—things bitter and astringent, things that feed us and light us, and things that cleanse us. The materials for a complete living-out of existence, more thorough and more taxing, because more real than the natural life alone could ever be. There it all is; and it will be given to us if we are willing to use it—done up perhaps in unattractive packets but none the less the food of Eternal Life. But what we want is the sweets!
“There is in God (some say) A deep, but dazzling darkness” — Henry Vaughan “Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.” — Isaiah 45:15 “Your brightness is my darkness. I know nothing of You and, by myself, I cannot even imagine how to go about knowing You. If I imagine You, […]
I’ll be joining “The Ride Home with John & Kathy” on Pittsburgh’s WORD-FM this afternoon at about 5:40 PM to discuss “How to Keep a Holy Lent.” If you’re in Pittsburgh I hope you’ll tune in.
For spiritually, heaven is as close down as up, and up as down, behind as in front, in front as behind, on one side as on the other; so much so that whoever has a true desire to be in heaven, then in that moment he is in heaven spiritually. For the high road and the shortest road thither is measured by desire and not by yards.
“What drew you to the contemplative path?” This is the question posed to Tilden Edwards, founder of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, and Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, in this video, one of several filmed as part of the fortieth anniversary celebration of the Shalem Institute in 2013.
Don’t let the whimsical illustrations by artist Francisco Miranda throw you off. This book provides a grounded discussion of how our image of God — the way we think about, or perceive, God — impacts our faith and especially our spiritual lives. When I teach introductory classes on Christian mysticism or contemplative prayer, I often refer to this book to help my students reflect on their own ways of imaging God. Many Christians (and even secular people) learn early in life that God is furious, God is wrathful, God is dangerous; and this image, often held subconsciously, can sabotage our attempts as adults to grow spiritually. Without taking time to heal our image of God, our efforts to pray or meditate may never get off the ground. This book is an essential guide to that necessary healing process.