Five Marks of Authentic Mysticism (Underhill)

In her introduction to Orbis Books' Essential Writings of Evelyn Underhill, Emilie Griffin notes that Underhill delineates five marks or characteristics of authentic Christian mysticism. These are well worth considering:Christian mysticism is active and practical. Even a Carthusian hermit takes responsibility for living his contemplative life with honor, dignity, and personal integrity. Meanwhile, for the vast majority of Christian contemplatives, the life of silence is embedded in a … [Read more...]

The Feast of St. Benedict: Ad Deificum Lumen

Today is the feast of St. Benedict.This morning at mass, Father Tom Francis (who works with me at the Abbey Store) preached on the Rule and on his life experience as a Trappist monk for over 50 years now. During the sermon, he mentioned a conversation that he and I and another Lay Cistercian had a while back about a phrase in the prologue to the Holy Rule of St. Benedict: et apertis oculis nostris ad deificum lumen, which is often translated as "Let us open our eyes to the light that … [Read more...]

Remembering John O’Donohue

I am saddened to have learned of the passing of John O'Donohue, author of Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, yesterday (January 4, 2008). He died peacefully in his sleep while on holiday in France. Read the announcement on his website.In 1999 I had the privilege to interview him for a book industry trade publication; you can read the interview below this announcement.He was not only one of the most articulate voices of living Celtic Christianity and Celtic wisdom, but he also had a … [Read more...]

A Conversation with the Compost Queen

Trina Paulus, author of the best-selling Hope for the Flowers, talks about environmental activism, the spirituality of waiting, and two very special butterflies named Yellow and Stripe.September 1997 marks the 25th Anniversary of Hope for the Flowers, a whimsical, moving parable about life, hope, and transformation. As part of the celebration Trina Paulus, the book's author, illustrator, and calligrapher, adds a new talent to her repertoire—recording artist. Her newly-recorded audiobook v … [Read more...]

My Loveliest Dream

It must have been sometime in the early 1980s. I was either still working on my Master's or had just recently graduated, and my spiritual life was nurtured mostly by reading books by the Anglican mystic Evelyn Underhill and the Christian Jungian Morton Kelsey.And then one night, I had a dream.In it I was climbing up a hill near the Ballston Metro station in Arlington, Virginia. The hill was lush, covered with trees and vegetation that provided comforting shade in the midst of the bright … [Read more...]

February 5, 1977

Here is an excerpt from my book The Aspiring Mystic: Practical Steps for Spiritual Seekers (2000), which unfortunately is out of print, although used copies are fairly easy to find. This passage describes my own initiation into an embodied, luminous encounter with the Divine, after which "spirituality" for me would always be a lived reality, not just an abstract idea.The highlight of the weekend was the Saturday night communion service. With all one hundred or so of the participants present, … [Read more...]

Sylvia B. McColman (1923-2007)

Sylvia B. McColman, 83, of Hampton, Virginia, passed from this life on January 4, 2007 surrounded by loved ones. She graced the lives of countless friends and acquaintances with her warmth, her charm, and her playful sense of humor. Her life will be celebrated through a funeral service at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hampton on Tuesday, January 23rd at 7 PM with a reception afterwards. Interment will be in the Gloria Dei Memorial Garden.Born Sylvia Bertha Batina on January 29, 1923 in … [Read more...]