Quote for the Day (for Ali)

Believe me as one who has experience, you will find much more among the woods then ever you will among books. Woods and stones will teach you what you can never hear from any master.

— Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, The Letters

Talking about "Befriending Silence"
Preliminary Practices for Christian Contemplatives
Pentecost and Ecstasy
Emptiness and Non-Attachment
About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • http://meadowsweet-myrrh.blogspot.com/ Ali

    Aw! And here I thought I made that up! ;)

  • brazenbird

    I loved this when Ali shared it yesterday. Thank you Ali and thank you Carl. There’s a trust that needs to be reinstated in myself and part of that is learning to trust what waits for me in nature. Really beautiful.

  • rodney neill

    hello Carl,

    I have copied a statement by a leading ‘process’ theologian Bruce Epperley which outlines the place of spiritual practices in a vision of the liberal/progressive tradition of Christianity which I believe has much in common with those involved in the emergent conversation……whether this is regarded as a modern creative reinterpretation of the Christian mystical experience or a betrayal of the mystical tradition within Christianity i think goes to the heart of some of the recent issues raised on yout blog. What is the relationship of progressive christianity with its emphasis on on the authority of individual experience, modern critical enquiry and the questioning of tradition to the tradition of Christian mysticism?


    • Recovery of prayer as a pathway of awakening to the sacrament of the present moment. Although we do not expect supernatural violations of the laws of nature in response to our prayers, we can pray with the expectation that the act of prayer joins us with God and those for whom we pray, awakens us to new perspectives, and (I believe) creates a positive field of force around those for whom we pray, thus, enabling God to be more active in their lives.
    • A commitment to easily learned meditative/contemplative practices such as breath prayer (simply breathing in God’s spirit, exhaling stress); centering prayer (focusing on a prayer word, such as “peace,” “joy,” “love”)
    • An exploration of imaginative prayer (experiencing the world as reflecting God’s presence, including those with whom we contend in the current political, theological, and culture “wars”) Seeing Christ in those with whom we disagree moves us from “polarization” to “contrast,” that is, to affirmation without divisiveness.
    • A discovery of Christian affirmations that transform our minds and actions. (Short sentences aimed at transforming the way we experience reality, such as “I am God’s beloved child,” “Nothing can separate me from the love of God,” “God’s light shines in all creation, even those with whom I contend.”)
    • An openness to God’s healing touch through acts of prayer, healing rituals such as laying on of hands, and global energy techniques (such as healing touch, therapeutic touch, and reiki healing touch.)
    • A commitment to joining heart and hands in social activism – praying our political action and seeing Christ in those whom we serve.
    • A commitment to reading the bible imaginatively through Benedictine lectio divina (holy reading) and Ignatian spiritual exercises/imaginative prayer.
  • http://bodymindspiritpath.blogspot.com Shirley Oskamp

    St. Bernard has it right! We need to take the woods seriously, spend time out there building our relationships so that when we are under stress, or just in the middle of a busy day, we can tap back into that soothing and wise presence. And, I think the woods also awaken when we offer them our attention. Every living being responds to be cared for.

  • John March

    This is like Ajahn Chah, a modern Theravadan Buddhist master in the Thai forrest tradition (see The Still Forrest Pool), who said of Western students who are gripped by obsessiveness and achievement motivation: “better to spend time in nature until you realize that you are part of everything.”