Why Contemplation is Revolutionary (Part One)

In yesterday's post (The Archbishop and the Community Theologian) I quoted two renowned living contemplatives — emeritus Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and author/community theologian Kenneth Leech — both speaking of the communal and social implications of contemplative prayer.Naysayers, stand aside. Contemplative prayer is not about navel-gazing or self-absorbed "spiritual experiences." Indeed, anyone who explores contemplation only out of a desire for mystical experience or per … [Read more...]

My First Article in Contemplative Journal, or, How to Be a Faithful Christian While Embracing Interspirituality

Contemplative Journal is the loveliest and most promising new website to come along in quite some time. Unlike some of the more prominent inter-religious websites, this start-up is dedicated to the contemplative dimension of the spiritual life, with a decidedly interspiritual presence. Early contributors included a variety of well-known and intriguing voices in the contemplative world: Judith Simmer-Brown, Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Mirabai Starr, Thomas Keating, and many others. According to its … [Read more...]

Contemplative Commerce

The motto of Benedictine spirituality is ora et labora — a deceptively simple Latin phrase that means "to pray and to work." A variation of it, ora est labora, means "to pray is to work" — a sentiment handily embodied in the Latin words, where ora is actually part of labora. Prayer and work: the heart of Benedictine spirituality, and by extension, the heart of all spiritual traditions based on the Rule of St. Benedict, including the Trappist/Cistercian tradition.Plenty of books can be found o … [Read more...]

On Being a Lay Cistercian

"Are you a monk?"I get asked that question a lot, especially when I'm at the monastery where I work and pray and lead retreats. Perhaps it's because of my greying hair and scruffy beard. Whatever the reason, I always see it as a compliment, but of course, I'm not a monk. So I say, "No, I'm not; I'm what is called a Lay Cistercian.""What's that?" is the inevitable follow-up question."I'm a layperson, like any other — I have a wife and a daughter and a monthly mortgage to pay. But I do … [Read more...]

Three Video Clips: Speaking of Mysticism in Portland, OR

Here are three brief excerpts from a talk I gave in Portland, OR, in October 2010 on the topic of Christian mysticism. They were filmed and produced by Cathy Zheutlin of Holy Rascals — a media company that produces videos and webinars for the spiritually adventurous. In the first one, I tell an amusing story of one of my monastic mentors, Father Anthony, who gave me some grief about the difficulty of defining the word "mysticism"...So in this next video, I offer less of a "definition" of … [Read more...]

John D McColman: Obituary and Reminiscence

First, the obituary...Retired Major John D McColman, USAF, 89, passed from this life in High Shoals, Georgia, on January 15, 2013. A lifelong sportsman and devoted family man, John touched many lives through his quiet but warm personality, dry sense of humor, and compassionate character.John D McColman (his birth certificate simply reads the initial “D” for his middle name, which was intended to be the name of his uncle, Dee) was born on June 15, 1923 in Avoca, Michigan. He entered pilot … [Read more...]

A Few Pictures of Dad: John McColman (1923-2013)

My father passed away yesterday. He was 89 years old.This was the end of a long journey of illness which began with a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease almost 20 years ago; congestive heart failure and finally dementia also took their toll. Of course, these are all diseases of attrition, so it truly was a long, slow goodbye. But he maintained a positive, optimistic spirit pretty much through it all, and was truly loved by the nurses and CNAs who cared for "Mr. John" at the nursing home where … [Read more...]