Happy St. Hildegard’s Day!

A Feather on the Breath of God

One of the most colorful and remarkable of mystics, of any age, is the irrepressible twelfth century Abbess, Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). Today (September 17) is her feast day.Hildegard was a Renaissance woman who lived several centuries before the Renaissance: not only was she a mystic and visionary, but she was also an accomplished musician, an artist (or, at least, an art director), a preacher, an herbalist, a prophet, and a respected leader in the church of her day. She lived at a … [Read more...]

In Memoriam: Kenneth Leech

KenLeech-Head

I have learned of the passing of Father Kenneth Leech, who died on Saturday after a long illness. With his passing, we have lost one of the great contemplatives of our time, who was also a prophet for God's justice and mercy.He was born in 1939 and grew up in a secular home in the north of England. As a youth he was inspired by Alisdair MacIntyre (later famous for his renowned study of postmodern moral theory, After Virtue) who helped him realize that it is possible to have a critical, inq … [Read more...]

Five Things Christian Contemplatives can learn from Buddhists

The Meditation Hall, Dharma Jewel Monastery

Last night I attended a Beginner's Meditation Class at the Dharma Jewel Monastery in Atlanta. Dharma Jewel is the home to several Chan Buddhist nuns from Taiwan.Recently, two friends of mine — one a Zen Buddhist priest, the other a Catholic theologian — suggested within 24 hours of each other that I would enjoy exploring Chan (the Chinese form of what in Japan is called Zen). So I signed up for this class, figuring it would be a way for me to connect with the nuns here in Atlanta.I was bl … [Read more...]

The Contemplative Story of Dear Prudence

"Dear Prudence" by Prudence Bruns

I love the Beatles, and like many Beatles fans, I think The White Album is one of their great masterpieces. And one of the best songs on The White Album is, without question, "Dear Prudence."But did you know that the song was influenced by the music of the Gypsies, Transcendental Meditation, and the daughter (and sister) of Hollywood celebrities?"Dear Prudence" was written in early 1968, when the Beatles were in India, while John and George were studying Transcendental Meditation with th … [Read more...]

Creative Conversation Begins with Contemplative Compassion

Listening with compassion is a path to authentic relationship. (Photo: Shutterstock)

A friend of mine, who is the executive director of a progressive Christian ministry, told me the story of meeting an activist who identifies as spiritual but not religious. At first, this person wasn't even interested in talking to my friend.He saw a Christian as someone hopelessly irrelevant, part of the problem rather than the solution.Fortunately, my progressive Christian friend was able to communicate one essential detail. "I'm not here to convert you or to argue with you. I'm here … [Read more...]

“They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” — And These Gifts Make It Possible

God is Love.

One of C.S. Lewis's last, and best, books was called The Four Loves. Drawing from four different Greek words for love, the book celebrates affection, friendship, eros, and charity and considers the moral, ethical, and spiritual dynamics at play in each form of love.As worthy as Lewis's writing might be, I think Jesus offers his own take on "four loves" that considers not the dynamic of love so much as the object of our love. Here are two Biblical passages that illustrate Jesus's four lo … [Read more...]

Mysticism and the Divine Feminine: An Interview with Mirabai Starr

Mirabai Starr

One of my favorite contemporary authors is Mirabai Starr, who I first encountered through her vivid and accessible translations of John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Julian of Norwich. Mirabai has emerged in the last few years as one of the leading voices in interspirituality. Mirabai has a free web event coming up next week called Reclaiming the Power of Ecstasy as a Feminine Mystic (to register for it, click here). When she asked me if I would help to get the word out, I thought the best w … [Read more...]


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